Canadian Manufacturing

Bombardier opts not to bid on Amtrak high-speed rail contract

Company said it didn't submit proposal after Amtrak refused request for delay following unspecified changes in technical specifications



MONTREAL—Amtrak will select a new supplier for the replacement of its high-speed Acela rail cars in the eastern United States after Bombardier Inc. opted not to bid again on the project.

Bombardier Transportation, the company’s rail manufacturing division, said it didn’t submit a technical proposal in October after Amtrak refused its request for a delay following unspecified changes in technical specifications.

The request for proposals was issued July 1.

The world’s largest rail car manufacturer was considered a leading bidder.

Bombardier spokesperson Maryanne Roberts said the company hopes to work with Amtrak again.

“It is disappointing but it’s not a big blow,” she said in an interview.

Roberts said the missed contract won’t result in layoffs at its Plattsburgh, N.Y., railway facility or elsewhere because it is gearing up for metro car orders from New York and San Francisco operators.

The National Railroad Passenger Corp., which operates as Amtrak, is looking to order as many as 28 trains, each able to carry about 425 passengers, that would begin to enter into service by 2019.

The trains run between Washington, D.C., and Boston, through New York City.

Bombardier and Alstom partnered to supply the original 20 Acela trains with 304 seats that went into service in 2000.

Bombardier’s share of that contract for 120 coaches, 40 power cars and 15 electric locomotives was worth US$710 million.

The trains faced a series of early mechanical issues before Bombardier and Alstom sued each other, eventually settling a decade ago.

Siemens AG, Alstom and Hitachi, Ltd. are among the world’s large rail manufacturers that are expected to participate in a tender call for trains that could travel as fast as 257 km/h.

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