Bombardier’s Blundering Is Alstom’s Gain

Recent problems with Bombardier’s delivery of new trams for Toronto has made Canadian customers look elsewhere.

For two long, Ottawa has twisted arms of Canadian transit operators to buy the Canadian Bombardier product, to keep production going, propping up the giant multinational company and garnering votes from Ontario and Quebec.

This is not to say Bombardier provides a bad product, as their European designed trams are well received around the world.

This has lead to complacency with Bombardier Inc., which management has completely forgotten about customer satisfaction.

Problems delivering new trams for the TTC has set off alarm bells at MetroLinx, in Ontario………….

Metrolinx is a Crown agency that manages and integrates road and public transport in the Golden Horseshoe region, which includes the cities of Toronto and Hamilton, of Ontario, Canada. Headquartered in Union Station in Toronto, the organization was created by the Government of Ontario as the Greater Toronto Transportation Authority on April 24, 2006. It adopted the public name, Metrolinx, in 2007.

…….. which is now procuring trams from Alstom, a well regarded French company, which is presently supplying trams to Ottawa.

Vancouver will not have this problem as our proprietary ALRT/ART system has only one supplier, Bombardier, so production delays doesn’t matter.

The Canada Line EMU’s use a dated EMU design from Hyundai and being part of the consortium operating the mock P-3, no other car manufacturer need apply.

With SkyTrain light-metro, Metro Vancouver is stuck with two suppliers, who can sell us anything because there is no competition.

There are two lessons to be learned:

  1. Throwing money at Bombardier, does not improve management, but keeps the largely inept corporation from going bankrupt.
  2. TransLink is screwed because of the proprietary SkyTrain system and having only one supplier.

With the order with Alstom, Bombardier will have to face stiff competition, something their tired and protected management are deathly afraid of.


2 Responses to “Bombardier’s Blundering Is Alstom’s Gain”
  1. Jeff says:

    Our system is actually just a mash up of several technologies including LIM and ATC so technically can’t we just order from Japan which right now has a total obsession with SkyTrain-like systems?

    Zwei replies: Japan is blessed with a large population, confined to a small space and gadgetbahnen can survive with fares from high ridership. As well, there are generous monies spent on R&D on public transit systems and many are “one-off” experimental systems.

    The problem with proprietary transit systems is that one cannot buy “off the shelf” and vehicles must be able to operate the one system. One just can’t buy Hitachi cars and operate them on our system and visa versa.

    As a note, Japan is now beginning to one again invest in light rail to mitigate the problems with proprietary and unconventional transit systems.

  2. Haveacow says:

    Jeff, Japanese systems are using linear induction trains on a few systems not a majority of them. Their technology is not directly compatible with Bombardier’s linear induction propulsion system. The electrical pick ups are in the wrong positions, the voltages and currents in the linear induction propulsion system of the Hitachi and Kawasaki based vehicles are completely different and not compatible with Bombardier’s. There is also a well known magnetic polarity difference in the basic propulsion system when the Skytrain technology is compared to the Hitachi based vehicle propulsion system.

    That being said, could Japanese suppliers build a train that is compatible with the Skytrain technology sure, but it most likely would cost more than Bombardier’s equipment, who happens to own their LIM technology’s patents, as Hitachi and Kawasaki owns their LIM propulsion technological patents. What complicates the situation is that, it is unlikely Bombardier would just give a competitor access to these designs so that they could even begin to supply a product to Vancouver unless they absolutely have to. I’m sure there are contractual conditions that limits this activity so that Translink has no choice but to involve Bombardier at some level, even if Bombardier wants to allow outside bidders for the Skytrain System here in Vancouver.

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