Skip to main content
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track on the Olympic Games
Enjoy unlimited digital access
$1.99
per week for 24 weeks
Complete Olympic Games coverage at your fingertips
Your inside track onthe Olympics Games
$1.99
per week
for 24 weeks
// //

A file photo of Bombardier employees working on a rail car at the La Pocatière, Que. plant.

Benoit Gariepy/The Canadian Press

Bombardier Inc. is suspending work on its contract to build the city of Montreal's new metro cars for six months as it works through a supplier problem on critical software for the rail equipment.

The Montreal-based company, the world's only maker of both planes and trains, said Friday it will stop manufacturing for the $1.2-billion contract from the end of April to the end of October. It still expects to meet a 2018 deadline to deliver the equipment, consisting of 468 subway cars. Each train set will have nine cars each.

About a third of the company's 430 workers at the company's train plant in La Pocatière, Que. will be laid off temporarily, said company spokesman Marc Laforge. Other employees continue work on separate contracts including Toronto's Rocket subway trains and New York City's subway.

Story continues below advertisement

The stoppage is not financially material to Bombardier, said Mr. Laforge. But because the company gets paid based on certain confidential delivery milestones, it does face a deferment in being paid on this contract, he said. "Some of the payments will be delayed."

The problem lies with a supplier of the train set's automatic control system, Mr. Laforge said. The supplier in question, Italian-based Alsaldo STS, is working under the responsibility of contract partner Alstom SA, he said.

The automatic control system is critical software whose functions include overriding manual manoeuvres made in error, Mr. Laforge said. "You need to have it."

Bombardier has built 40 of the 468 cars it has been contracted to build. It can't go any further without Alsado's equipment, he said.

"There comes a point where you have to stop," said Mr. Laforge. "We've completed what we could complete."

Alstom Canada spokeswoman Michelle Stein noted that the software is not an off-the-shelf product and is customized to address the specific operational requirements of Montreal's transit authority. She could not say exactly why there was a delay.

"Development is progressing" on the software, said Ms. Stein, adding Alstom supports Bombardier's belief that the 2018 final deadline holds.

Story continues below advertisement

The contract to replace Montreal's aging rubber-tired subway cars has been a conflict-filled saga involving legal battles and political interference. At the beginning of the process a decade ago, Quebec sought to strike a one-on-one deal with Bombardier. Paris-based Alstom then muscled in and the two companies concluded they should partner on the deal. A period of confusion followed when the Montreal transit authority concluded it had to open a new international tender process because the size of the contract was enlarged.

Your Globe

Build your personal news feed

  1. Follow topics and authors relevant to your reading interests.
  2. Check your Following feed daily, and never miss an article. Access your Following feed from your account menu at the top right corner of every page.

Follow the author of this article:

View more suggestions in Following Read more about following topics and authors
Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Tickers mentioned in this story
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

If you do not see your comment posted immediately, it is being reviewed by the moderation team and may appear shortly, generally within an hour.

We aim to have all comments reviewed in a timely manner.

Comments that violate our community guidelines will not be posted.

UPDATED: Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies