Bombardier, Chinese Train Maker Vie For Contract

Chinese train company Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive expects to create up to 1,000 new jobs in Montreal if it beats a Bombardier-Alstom consortium bid to build new subway cars.

MONTREAL (CP) -- Chinese train company Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive expects to create up to 1,000 new jobs in Montreal if it beats a Bombardier-Alstom consortium bid to build new subway cars for Montreal's Metro system.

The company said Monday it would assemble the subway cars in a Montreal-area plant to respect the requirement that 60 percent of the content be Canadian.

Through its associate, CPCS Technologies Canada, Zhuzhou has signed a tentative agreement with the owners of the Dominion Bridge plant where automated trains were built for Toronto's Pearson Airport.

A portion of the product line may also accommodate high-speed train equipment and electric passenger and freight locomotives, the company said in a news release.

The companies would expect to hire between 750 and 1,000 people to assemble 762 cars in a deal estimated to exceed $3 billion.

The Quebec and Montreal governments reopened the contract for bidding after the Chinese company threatened to challenge the previous tender process in court. The original tender that was being negotiated with Bombardier Transportation and Alstom was for 342 cars.

Zhuzhou has asked Montreal's transit authority for access to "become familiar with the Montreal metro infrastructure, track and welded rail system." The company said the Societe de transport de Montreal has refused to grant access.

It said it needs the assessment of the track to prepare a comprehensive proposal that would change the network to steel wheel rather than rubber tires.

The cars would be delivered within two years at a much lower price than the old cars, the company added.

"Based on opinions by international experts gathered to date, we strongly believe that the rail and track presently used in the Montreal metro can be easily adapted without service interruption to accommodate steel wheels cars," said Glen Fisher, president of CPCS Technologies.

"We hope to come quickly to an agreement with the STM (Montreal transit authority) to allow the steel wheel metro car, a proven technology, in its call for tenders and not only rubber tire cars."

CSR Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Company Ltd. was founded in 1936. In 1958, it developed and manufactured the first main-line electric locomotive in China.

In trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange, the B shares of Bombardier Inc. fell eight cents to $5.37, a drop of nearly 1.5 percent.

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