Two Failed Deals Come Together On City's Light Rail

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    Ken Gray

    What goes around, comes around.

    Guess who is merging their rail programs this week? Why Alstom and Siemens.

    Why does this matter? Well the original light-rail contract was signed by Siemens and the city that would have seen rail to Barrhaven, Kanata and Orleans built for $2.8 billion. Former mayor Larry O’Brien broke the contract and legal action ensued. By the time it was through, the city lost about $100 million in damages and lost work.

    Meanwhile, Alstom has the rolling stock for the wildly over-priced current light-rail project that comes in at $6 billion with no connections to Barrhaven and Kanata.

    Siemens gave the city a spectacular price because it wanted to be able to sell its product around the world. Why our system is so good, Siemens would say, that we built LRT for the capital of Canada with our competitor’s headquarters (Bombardier) just two hours away.

    Canada, perceived as a smart country, would be a great selling point for Siemens. Just so happens the rest of the world hasn’t seen the City of Ottawa in action. Its rather different reputation would not be a plus for Siemens. In fact Siemens found that out first-hand.

    Rather than getting the Siemens project finished and done with, city staff and Mayor Jim Watson are building a vanity project with all the bells and whistles while saying it’s a Chevy rather than a Cadillac. And they’re right. Ottawa light rail isn’t a Cadillace. It’s a fleet of Mercedes. Over-spending gone wild … $3.2-billion worth of construction to win some obscure city staff members some awards. Expensive awards.

    Now won’t this be interesting. Alstom and the spurned Siemens officials working together on Ottawa light rail.

    You have to know the Siemens people still have a bug in their bonnets over the previous shambles of a deal.

    Interesting to see how all this will work out.

    #736799 Reply


    Rail is a niche industry and the big players are limited.

    Have you been following Toronto’s little affair with B?

    I am looking forward to reading about the things that will be coming. I think there will be some fun. Keep your eyes on the trades and specialty publications because they report industry scuttlebutt before it gets to the regular news.


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