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Report on Business Bombardier, Alstom land $448-million contract to build Montreal subway trains

Rail-equipment suppliers Bombardier Inc. and Alstom SA say they will build another 17 new Azur train sets for Montreal’s subway system in a deal designed to maintain jobs in Quebec.

A consortium led by the two partners said on Monday that they signed an amendment to the initial contract dated October, 2010, with the Société de transport de Montréal to supply the transit authority with an additional 153 metro cars or 17 nine-car train sets. The value of the order is about $448-million, with Bombardier’s share worth $281-million.

Most of the manufacturing and all of the final assembly of the vehicles will be done at Bombardier’s facility in La Pocatière, Que., the companies said. Workers at the plant are currently completing the last train sets of the original 2010 contract.

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The order was expected and follows a plan set in motion this past spring by former premier Philippe Couillard. After Bombardier was not chosen to supply the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec’s new REM light-rail line in Montreal, concern mounted about the future of La Pocatière, so Mr. Couillard led a plan to speed up the next phase of subway-car replacement in order to generate work for Bombardier employees.

France’s government used a similar ploy in 2016, preventing the closure of Alstom’s Belfort rail factory by placing a €600-million ($892-million) order for high-speed trains it did not immediately need.

Alstom’s plant in Sorel-Tracy, Que., will supply the bogies and the motors for the new train sets in addition to train control, communication, passenger information and video-surveillance systems, the companies said. Roughly 170 Bombardier employees will be assigned to the new order as well as 70 Alstom employees, they said.

In June, Bombardier said that without a new contract, up to 250 employees at La Pocatière would be laid off by February 2019. About 100 workers are still expected to lose their jobs over that timeframe, said company spokesperson Jade St-Jean.

Built especially for Montreal’s subway network, the first Azur trains entered service in February, 2016. The original contract called for Bombardier and Alstom to supply a fleet of 52 train sets at a cost of $1.2-billion. They are gradually replacing the city’s aging fleet of original rubber-tired vehicles.

The news comes just days after Bombardier announced another round of restructuring that will see it cut 5,000 jobs, half of them in Quebec. The layoffs will mostly hit the company’s aerospace business, a spokesman said.

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