By IAN ROSS
Northern Ontario Business
Ontario Northland Railroad has won an $81-million contract to refurbish GO Transit coaches.
The Crown corporation beat out Industrial Rail Services (IRS) of Moncton, N.B. and Bombardier for the seven-year contract to repair 121 commuter cars.
The bulk of the work will likely commence in September once the details of the contract are finalized, says spokesperson Judy Cardoni.
The contract will require some infrastructural upgrades at their repair shops in North Bay and Cochrane, and will result in about 30 new positions in North Bay and 10 in Cochrane.
Securing such a large contract over a minimum of four years bodes well for the 916-employee railway's revenue base, says Cardoni.
The contract will require infrastructure upgrades and possible expansions at their North Bay repair complex to accommodate the added work. About 30 new technical positions in North Bay will be created through a combination of hired skilled tradespeople, apprenticeship programs and existing
employees who may be retrained from other jobs within the company.
"Either way those (vacant) positions will have to be back-filled."
Cardoni says the plan is for GO Transit to initially send two cars up to North Bay so that railway tradespeople can make appropriate adjustments in the shop complex to accommodate the remaining cars, but the bulk of the work will begin this fall.
The initial phase of the contract is for four years and 70 cars, with an option for an additional three years for a total of 121 cars.
The railway expects the long-term contract should bring new money into the community and should benefit North Bay industrial suppliers and retailers.
"Some of the materials for this contract will have to come from very specific suppliers who can do that type of work, and there may be some goods and services we have to buy from the area."
Ontario Northland's Cochrane repair shops will gain some additional work with passenger coach work normally performed in North Bay being assigned there.
About 10 new positions will be created in Cochrane, with significant upgrades made to the existing shop facility.
"Ontario Northland's team worked long and hard to a put a competitive bid together and they are to be congratulated," says ONR board chair and CEO Royal Poulin. "This is a significant step forward for Ontario Northland in ensuring long-term stability and viability for our workforce."
This is not the first time Ontario Northland has bid on outside work, says Cardoni, "but certainly nothing of this magnitude. This is by far the largest."
And it may open the door for the Crown-owned corporation to bid on future refurbishment work.
"As opportunities come up we will look at them and if from a business perspective they are something we think is beneficial we will look into them."