Exec says Alstom hasn’t had time to research Ottawa’s labor market for LRT


The LRT Public Inquiry Commissioner was also told that Alstom also did not have time to finalize its supply chain for the Citadis Spirit trains used on the Ottawa system.

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Alstom didn’t have time to consider Ottawa’s manpower expertise when the French train maker quickly put together a bid with Rideau Transit Group, the commissioner of inquiry heard Thursday. the TLR.

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As Alstom attempted to design its Citadis train for the overseas market while trying to meet a bid deadline for the City of Ottawa’s Phase 1 light rail project, the company did not have the time to research the availability of skilled workers in Ottawa, said Yves Declercq. .

Declercq, a seasoned Alstom manager who was director of the Citadis Spirit train program, testified on Day 4 of the inquiry that the company was even trying to determine where it would assemble trains for the Ottawa project shortly before that RTG’s offer is not submitted to the city in 2012. .

The commissioner was told that Alstom had also not had time to define its supply chain for the Citadis Spirit trains, which would be an adapted design requiring significant modifications to the parent Citadis model used in other parts of the world.

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« During the window of time, we didn’t have time to go through every little detail of the local market, » said Declercq, co-lead commission counsel Christine Mainville.

In a similar line of questioning from city attorney Jesse Gardner, Declercq said the LRT project’s 25% Canadian content rules for vehicles meant Alstom had to assemble the vehicles in Ottawa because it doesn’t was not possible to obtain the train parts from Canadian Suppliers.

Alstom quickly discovered that there was a « limited skilled local workforce for industrial manufacturing », Declercq said. When the company recruited workers, many left once they were trained and could write « Alstom » on their CVs, Declercq said.

« It’s a whole system that we’re just beginning to understand, » he testified.

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Worker availability became an issue later in the maintenance phase of SLR’s program as Rideau Transit Maintenance, a subsidiary of RTG whose main contractor is Alstom, tackled a backlog of work.

Declercq said he was not responsible for the maintenance part of Alstom’s involvement in the Ottawa LRT.

It was a bit of a shock for Alstom to find itself involved in the Ottawa SLR project.

RTG’s first choice for a train, developed by CAF, was rejected by the city, prompting RTG to call on Alstom for a train proposal months ahead of the city’s submission deadline, the city has learned. commission.

Alstom originally wanted to do some of the LRT work, but didn’t get past the qualification stage, so was surprised to be approached by another consortium to pitch a train product for the LRT project. Ottawa,” Declercq said.

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For Alstom, it was a new chance to establish itself on the North American market.

Declercq addressed the August 2021 derailment and proposed a new reason why the out-of-service train ran off the tracks near Tunney’s Pasture Station, based on a recently completed root cause analysis.

The derailment was classified as an axle failure.

Workers walk alongside a slow-moving LRT double car to ensure it returned to the maintenance facility without further damage following the August 2021 derailment.
Workers walk alongside a slow-moving LRT double car to ensure it returned to the maintenance facility without further damage following the August 2021 derailment. Photo by Jon Willing /Postmedia

Declercq said Alstom believed the rails were not designed as the company expected, potentially creating undue stress on the wheel component.

According to Declercq, the axle issue was known to the company before the Ottawa project, but component wear happened much faster in Ottawa, prompting the company to send in experts to figure out why.

RTG’s lawyer, Gordon Capern, disputed Declercq’s evidence, noting that RTG had not contributed to Alstom’s root cause report.

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Declercq claimed the tracks had not been properly laid, but Capern suggested there was no independent evidence to suggest the tracks weren’t up to standard.

The maintenance plan to ensure train safety foresees that Alstom checks and tests the train wheels every 7,500 kilometres.

The commission of inquiry revealed disagreements between RTG’s subcontractors.

There have been coordination issues between Alstom and signaling systems provider Thales. The technology used by each of these two companies informs the work of the other.

Declercq said there appeared to be no one at Ottawa Light Rail Transit Constructors (OLRTC), RTG’s construction arm, making sure the various elements of the project were in sync. He highlighted a particular problem getting information from Thales, creating delays.

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“To my memory, there was no designated person for system integration,” Declercq said.

Manuel Rivaya, a former Dragados Canada executive who was on the OLRTC’s oversight committee, said there were disputes between the construction group and its engineering contractor over systems integration.

The public can view all of the LRT Inquiry hearings on video screens in the University of Ottawa’s Fauteux Hall, online at www.ottawalrtpublicinquiry.ca or on Rogers TV (channels 470 in English and 471 in French).

On Friday, the commission is due to hear Antonio Estrada, who was CEO of RTG for most of the construction phase of the LRT system, and Rupert Holloway, who was at one point project manager for OLRTC.

Judge William Hourigan is the investigating commissioner.



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