Thursday, April 20, 2017

Time to Get Bombardier Off the Gravy Train

Opinion Column - I have blindly supported Bombardier for decades in hopes they would lead a passenger rail renewal in Canada. Sadly recent events have lead me to the conclusion that it may be time to look outside of Canada for passenger rail companies. These companies are willing to lobby the government for modern passenger rail service, build their trains here and deliver them on time.

Here are a couple events in Bombardier's past..

In 2002, I advocated strongly for Bombardier and their Jet Train. They made the large financial decision to actually build a demonstration vehicle. They promoted the Jet Train for corridor use in several locations in Canada and the USA. Sadly the timing was wrong as both the Canadian and USA governments were being run by anti-passenger rail leaders in 2003 and funding was never given to buy any Jet Trains.

I even supported Bombardier in 2004 when their Canadian made Las Vegas monorail had parts fall off the monorail vehicles to the ground during service. This caused the line to be shut down on two occasions.

Bombardier Las Vegas Monorail
After the failed Jet Train promotion it seemed Bombardier turned their backs on Canada as a place to lobby, invest and build modern high speed trains in. Yet around the world Bombardier had become a leader in building high speed trains and lines even competing and cooperating with China on their vast high speed rail system.

As mentioned previously on this site, high speed rail manufacturers from around the world are hesitant to even lobby in Canada, let alone invest, as they feel Bombardier will win the bid even if they do not have the capacity in Canada to build them.

Today the situation with Bombardier in Canada can only be described as despicable. As widely publicized the Quebec government gave Bombardier $1.3 billion to help in their CSeries Jet problems. Then in 2016 the Canadian government gave Bombardier a $372 million loan again to fix their ailing aerospace problem.

So what do executives in Bombardier receive for taking so much taxpayer money? They are given bonuses… I will not dwell on this fact as it has been widely reported in the papers. Suffice to say there is not a Corporate ethics policy at Bombardier.

Over on the train side of Bombardier, there is the Toronto LRV debacle. Bombardier have failed to deliver their LRV on time and this has led Metrolinx trying to cancel the contract with Bombardier. Unfortunately a recent court order prevents Metrolink from getting out of the contract until a dispute resolution process has taken place. This may take months/years to resolve as Bombardier will appeal any decision against them.

In conclusion, what is good for Bombardier may not be what is good for Canadians or the future of passenger rail in Canada. It is time for our government and the public to welcome and encourage other passenger rail manufacturers into this country.

Paul Langan