Siemens is pushing for a ‘hybrid’ tram

The manufacturer Siemens is seriously considering leaving the field open to Alstom/Bombardier for the contract for the trains of the future Quebec tramway, if the City refuses to consider its hybrid “wired or wireless” technology.

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In an email exchange with The newspaper, Thursday, Siemens Mobility Canada confirmed that it was no longer certain to submit a bid for the design, manufacture and maintenance of the rolling stock. The company says it is “in reflection”.

The current process, it is claimed, does not make it possible to offer the “best technology” from the outset, for the quality of life in the residential neighborhoods crossed by the future tramway.

Siemens is offering a “modern” hybrid solution that would eliminate the wires if necessary on certain sensitive portions of the route. Batteries would then take over to propel the tram.

Siemens’ exit, first reported in the pages of the Sun Thursday caused consternation at City Hall as the bidding process is in full swing.

No comments

Mayor Bruno Marchand and RTC President Maude Mercier Larouche declined to comment Thursday.

“The call for proposals process being underway, the City cannot comment on the output of one of the companies for the rolling stock component concerning the technical parameters. The process is continuing according to the planned schedule,” responded succinctly the spokesperson for the City of Quebec, David O’Brien.

Behind the scenes, however, many are offended that Siemens has broken the silence in this way, while the ongoing process is accompanied by confidentiality clauses.

Some also wonder why Siemens entered the race, and qualified in January, when the parameters of the project were already known.

The Government of Quebec requires proven technology in winter conditions.

That of Siemens has been proven only in Charlotte, North Carolina, for less than a year.


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Illustration courtesy Siemens

Siemens nevertheless believes that its technology is reliable and ensures that the City of Quebec would not be a “test bed”.

Only one bidder?

If Siemens were to carry out its threat, there would be only one bidder left.

Recall that the City had chosen to split the procurement process in two, in 2021, in order to stimulate competition, which caused a one-year delay.

In January, Mayor Marchand was delighted that two major candidates were on the starting blocks for the train contract.

“This success will ensure the best project at the best price, and this, for the benefit of all citizens”, he had dangled.

The leader of Quebec 21, Éric Ralph Mercier, said he was “concerned” Thursday and still wonders what will happen if the bids (both for rolling stock and infrastructure) exceed the budget by nearly $4 billion.

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