resim 1896
resim 1896

While the union is worried about receiving only “crumbs” from the Quebec tramway, the firm that won the contract ensures on the contrary that the La Pocatière plant will carry out the bulk of the work estimated at 1.34 billion.

“It’s a bad reading of the situation,” said Alstom spokesman Olivier Marcil about the exit of the CSN-affiliated union, which deplored that the construction of tram cars escaped scrutiny. La Pocatière plant for the benefit of Mexico.

The Quebec tramway cars will not be built in Mexico, assured the spokesperson for the multinational during an interview with La Presse. “The cars will be built from parts sourced from different suppliers, including Quebec suppliers, at a new assembly line in La Pocatière,” he explained.

Alstom was the only bidder following the call for tenders launched by the City of Quebec. The contract signed Monday by the parties provides for the construction of 34 cars and their maintenance for a period of 30 years, at a cost of 1.34 billion.

The 100% electric trams are those of Alstom’s Citadis range, which are already running in several French cities, as well as in Ottawa, Rotterdam and Rio de Janeiro. The Quebec tramway will run for 29 kilometers and should be ready in 2029.

The cars were designed and engineered by Alstom engineers in Saint-Bruno-de-Montarville, and they will be assembled at the La Pocatière plant, which was “at the heart of our offer to the City of Quebec,” according to the company.

Unlike the contract for the Réseau express métropolitain (REM) granted to the Caisse de depot with no requirement for local content (the cars were built in India), that of the Quebec tramway came with conditions.

“There were two important obligations in the call for tenders, namely a minimum of 25% local content and the completion of final assembly in Quebec,” said Olivier Marcil, adding that the La Pocatière plant would have “the lion’s share” of the streetcar contract.

The 25% share of local content should be exceeded, according to the Minister of the Economy, Pierre Fitzgibbon, who believes that the union members of the factory are wrongly worried.

“The plant has never been in a good position,” he said in response to questions from Parti Québécois leader Paul St-Pierre Plamondon.

“When Alstom bought Bombardier, there were 100 people [at the plant] and they had no more contracts. Today, there are 400 people and they are having trouble recruiting, ”also said the minister, interviewed by La Presse.

“You have to understand what La Pocatière is. La Pocatière does not make trains from A to Z, they have never made any train in their life. They assemble. »

With the contract from the City of Quebec, the plant inherits “the bulk of the work”, according to him.

On the union side, it is argued, on the contrary, that the La Pocatière plant has already built trains and is still building them, since it currently manufactures the cars of the Toronto tramway. Limiting himself to assembly operations risks losing his expertise.

“We don’t look up to it, but we would have liked to have had more,” said Louis Bégin, president of the CSN Manufacturing Industry Federation.

The 25% share of local content appears to be insufficient to achieve this objective, according to the union, and it should be increased.

For the Minister, this is another discussion. “We have to choose our battles,” he said. “Do we want to integrate the entire tramways in Quebec? he wondered. Maybe if we have four or five REMs coming, we’ll convince Alstom to set up a real parts manufacturing plant. We are not there yet, but we are courting them. »