The war of words between Metrolinx and Bombardier continues to escalate as both sides appear destined for court to settle a longstanding dispute over delayed light rail vehicles (LRVs) for Toronto.
Without going into much detail pending litigation, Metrolinx chair Rob Prichard said the agency was “extremely disappointed” with its LRV supplier for constant delays delivering a prototype vehicle for testing. According to Prichard, Bombardier has failed on 30 separate occasions to deliver the vehicle to Metrolinx’s exact specifications, and he suggested constant shuffling of the company’s senior leadership has severely impacted production efforts.
“Our urging of Bombardier, over and over, is to focus their efforts, stabilize their leadership, stop blaming others and deliver on the promises they made,” said Prichard following Friday’s meeting of the agency’s board of directors, where he and CEO Bruce McCuaig repeatedly rebuked the Canadian transportation giant.
Bombardier announced last week it is seeking a court injunction to prevent Metrolinx from terminating its $770-million contract to supply light rail vehicles for the Eglinton Crosstown and Finch West LRT lines. This move comes in response to Metrolinx’s decision in fall 2016 to file a legal notice of intention to terminate the contract for 182 light rail vehicles to run first on the Crosstown and then Finch West, both of which are not yet completed.
Metrolinx hasn’t received a pilot vehicle with even “basic functionality”, said McCuaig, and won’t okay production for the rest of the order without proper testing. While he wouldn’t confirm whether the delay will impact the opening of the Crosstown – already delayed by a year to 2021 for reasons not related to Bombardier – McCuaig said Bombardier needs to provide clear assurances it can deliver the order on time.
“We’ve been very clear they have to provide us a schedule and the means and methods how they’re going to get from here to there,” said McCuaig. “It’s still in their hands to provide us with that information.”
In a short statement, Bombardier dismissed Metrolinx’s concerns over the delivery, again promising it will deliver the LRVs on time. The company also reiterated its claim the pilot vehicle is ready for delivery, inviting Metrolinx officials as it did in October to personally inspect the vehicle at the company’s Kingston, Ont. facility.
“We simply urge (Metrolinx) to respect the contract so we can deliver world class trains to a world class city,” read the statement.
The strong remarks of Metrolinx’s most visible leadership mirrored similar statements made by the TTC in regards to its struggles with Bombardier over an oft-delayed order of new streetcars, of which the transit commission has received one so far this year, despite Bombardier committing to complete and ship from its Thunder Bay facility a total of 40 new vehicles by the end of 2017 to bring the existing total to approximately 71 in service by the end of 2017.
Late delivery of Bombardier-manufactured LRVs is also blamed for the year-long delay in the opening of Waterloo’s ION LRT line, operated by Grandlinq.