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Bombardier lands US$108 million transit contract for Thunder Bay plant

Coach manufacturer to assemble Bi-Level commuter cars for American West Coast transit authority

Thunder Bay's threatened Bombardier rail coach assembly plant may still have some longevity.

The international transit coach manufacturer announced new contracts have been signed to provide 28 Bi-Level commuter rail cars to two U.S. West Coast transportation authorities. The procurement is led by Seattle's Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority.

The cars will be built in Thunder Bay with deliveries scheduled to begin in the fourth quarter of 2021. The total combined value of the contracts is US $108 million.

The two contracts consist of a combination of eight cab cars and 20 coaches, including options for 33 additional rail cars.

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The lack of mass transit contracts in the queue for the Thunder Bay facility has resulted in a massive downsizing of the workforce from 1,100 to only a few hundred remaining on the floor to fulfill the last order of Bi-Level cars for Metrolinx.

The future of the plant staying operational beyond 2020 was looking dim.

“We are very happy to serve our valued, long-term commuter rail car customers as they expand and improve their fleets to meet ridership needs and enhance the passenger experience,” said Elliot Sander, president of Bombardier's America's Region, in a May 27 news release.

“These new orders are a demonstration of continued confidence in the BiLevel commuter rail car, a service-proven transit solution that delivers unparalleled reliability.”

In the release, Bombardier said the Bi-Level car, first introduced in 1978, is the most popular and adaptable double-deck commuter rail car in North America. It's in use at at 14 transportation authorities across Canada and the United States.