Free trade means Via Rail can’t favour Bombardier for new trains: Garneau

OTTAWA—Free trade agreements with Europe and the United States prevent Via Rail from favouring Bombardier in the awarding of contracts, federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau says.

Image: Andrew Dolch via Wikimedia Commons

Garneau reacted this morning to a report that Via Rail is preparing to award a $1-billion contract for new trains to the German firm Siemens AG.

La Presse reported the Crown Corporation is negotiating the terms of the contract with Siemens after its submission beat out Bombardier Transportation and third-place Spanish company Talgo Inc.

Garneau did not confirm the report and said the contract tendering process is not finished.

Via Rail had already ruled out in March the possibility of requiring local content in its request for proposals. The railway is seeking 32 new fuel-efficient, bi-directional trains for use in the Windsor-Quebec City Corridor.

Bombardier was hoping the Via contract would provide several years of work at its factory in La Pocatiere, Que. The company this month announced it will cut 5,000 workers worldwide, half of them in Quebec.