July 20, 2008 / 3:06 AM / in 9 years

Bombardier says stands behind Toronto streetcar bid

TORONTO (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) said on Friday it stands behind its bid to win a big contract to replace Toronto’s aging streetcar fleet, saying it does not understand complaints from the city’s transit authority that its proposed new vehicles couldn’t take tight turns.

“We believe the bid is compliant,” said David Slack, a spokesman for Bombardier’s transportation division, noting that the company had not been provided with enough additional information from the Toronto Transit Commission to understand what the problem is.

The contract for 204 new streetcars, worth C$1.25 billion ($1.24 billion), had looked likely to go to Montreal-based Bombardier after Germany’s Siemens AG (SIEGn.DE) decided not to enter the bidding, despite showing earlier interest.

The TTC said late on Thursday, that Bombardier’s bid was not compliant with the technical specifications it had set out and that the proposed streetcars would not be able to handle some of the tight turns on Toronto’s track network.

Slack said that, based on the information released on Thursday, “We had our engineers work all night to try to understand the issue and, at this point, we don’t understand it.”

He added that Bombardier, the world’s largest train maker, has requested an immediate meeting with the TTC.

A spokesman for Siemens said that if the requirements for the proposal, including technical and financial specifications, were to change, the company would be interested in submitting a bid.

But the TTC said it will not change the specifications it outlined in the original request for proposals. They include the requirement that the streetcars be completely wheelchair accessible, and that at least 25 percent of the content for the vehicles’ design and construction would be Canadian.

The contract also has an option to purchase up to an additional 364 streetcars over the next 15 years, as part of a plan to expand the use of light rail and rapid transit across Canada’s biggest city.

The only other company to enter the bidding was Britain’s TRAM Power, but its bid was also dismissed by the transit authority for being not commercially compliant.

The TTC said that it will now contact all companies that had previously expressed interest in the contract, including French high-speed train maker Alstom (ALSO.PA), to hold discussions with them.

Reporting by Leah Schnurr; editing by Rob Wilson

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