Bombardier out of bid on Amtrak high-speed rail replacement contract

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

The railway car manufacturer says 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 railway car manufacturer was considered a leading bidder.

Bombardier spokeswoman 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 New York and San Francisco metro car orders.

Amtrak is looking to order up to 28 trains, each carrying 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 (TSX:BBD.B) 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 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, Alstom and Hitachi are among the world’s large rail manufacturers that are expected to participate in a tender call for trains that could travel up to 257 kilometres per hour.

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