LRT delayed due to Bombardier vehicle production

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The Region of Waterloo has confirmed that the Light Rail Transit will no longer be up and running by late 2017, like they had initially hoped. Due to issues with Bombardier, the company that is manufacturing the actual vehicles, LRT operations have been delayed until early 2018.

Regional Councillor Tom Galloway, who is also chair of the planning and works committee, explained that this delay did not come as a surprise.

“We’re very disappointed,” Galloway said.

“We’ve been tracking very well on budget. We’ve been tracking very well, more or less, on time. But we knew this day would possibly come because of all the news with the Toronto Transit Commission … [Bombardier is] delivering their vehicles very late. Edmonton is getting their vehicles late.”

This is the second time Bombardier has delayed vehicle production.

This delay does not affect the construction, Galloway assured. Bombardier and GrandLinq, the company that is doing the construction, but will also operate the vehicles once operations commence, are two separate entities.

“When Bombardier delivers the vehicles to GrandLinq, GrandLinq has to fit them out with all the electronics and gear that they have installed along the track. Bombardier doesn’t do that; that’s part of GrandLinq’s contract,” Galloway said.

Galloway is hopeful that GrandLinq will still be done the construction aspect of the project by their anticipated time, which is July 2017. Both companies could potentially face financial penalties for falling behind schedule.

“Bombardier, for instance, the penalty there is $1500 per day, per vehicle, up to a limit of 3.3 million dollars. They’ll argue against that; they’ll say we had a seven-week strike in 2014, you can’t hold us accountable for that, or other delays that were beyond their control,” Galloway said.

These penalties, however, are negotiable.

Ultimately, Galloway believes that the reasons for the delay are not important. The original order, made in August 2013, was part of a 180 vehicle order. The Region of Waterloo will be receiving the first 14 vehicles of the 180 ordered for distribution across southern Ontario.

Reasons for the delay include the seven-week Bombardier strike that occurred in 2014 and several parts that were manufactured in Mexico that had quality issues. Therefore, that work had to be redone.

Galloway explained that Bombardier’s new president hopes to make changes in the company, starting by opening a new plant in Kingston and bringing in experts from Europe to help manufacture the vehicles.

“It’s a very large order that we’re part of and they’re highly motivated to get it done,” Galloway said, “… but at the end of the day, the reasons aren’t so important, as it is can you keep things on schedule now?”

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