Another ION delay… and some comments about Bombardier

On Thursday, October 19th, track testing for the ION train was supposed to begin but was delayed due to missing paperwork. Bombardier, the Canadian aerospace and transportation company that built the ION trains, had failed to deliver paperwork to GrandLinq, the organization hired by Waterloo Region to build the new transport system.

This is just the most recent in a series of delays in the development of the ION rail system due to Bombardier’s incompetence.

The second ION train was due to arrive in Waterloo last June, but did not actually arrive until October.

The first ION train arrived in February for testing, but was subsequently delayed due to major flaws in the train’s operating software. In other words, Bombardier delivered a dysfunctional vehicle.

Train delivery timelines were significantly delayed in 2016 due to production problems at Bombardier.

Waterloo Regional councilor Tom Galloway has said recently “We always have to be a little cautious [sic] about schedules coming from Bombardier because, of course, they are behind”. Tom Galloway has phrased his concern a bit more politely than I would if I were him.

The ION rail system is just one example of how Bombardier is becoming increasingly unprofitable and uncompetitive.

It was reported this year that Bombardier would receive $372.5 million in federal loans for its CSeries and Global 7000 aircraft, as well as $1 billion in loans from the Quebec government. The aim of these loans is to help Bombardier turn itself around and get itself off shaky financial grounds.

The former loan allowed Bombardier to sell its CSeries planes to U.S. customers for below market price, undercutting their American competitor, Boeing. Boeing filed a complaint with the U.S. commerce department and it was accepted, resulting in a 300% tariff on the Bombardier CSeries planes. A trade battle between the two companies ensued, and it appears Boeing is coming out on top. In addition, some consider the future of Bombardier to be largely dependent on the success of its CSeries program. Not so good for Bombardier.

Bombardier also has a $1 billion street car contract with the City of Toronto. By May, the City expected 121 streetcars but had only received 35. The 60th streetcar is expected to arrive this November.

The list of failed Bombardier contracts is extensive, and it seems no amount of taxpayer money will help. Maybe it’s time to stop the bailouts and let the free market do its job.

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