Alstom Sees Opportunities in America After Montreal Rail Deal

(Bloomberg) -- Alstom SA’s 1.4-billion-euro ($1.7 billion) contract to build a driverless light-rail system in Montreal may usher in an active bidding period in Canada and across North America, the trainmaker’s chief executive said.

Alstom on Thursday confirmed the signing of the agreement with Caisse de Depot & Placement du Quebec, Canada’s second-biggest pension fund manager, which owns the project. Alstom’s partner on the deal -- which includes rolling stock, signaling, operations and maintenance -- is Montreal-based SNC-Lavalin Group Inc., Canada’s biggest engineering and construction company.

The French company would be interested in bidding to build the subway cars that will be needed for a proposed extension of the Montreal metro’s blue line, Chief Executive Officer Henri Poupart-Lafarge said Thursday. Alstom will also keep an eye on a planned tramway system in Quebec City, the provincial capital. Opportunities also exist in Toronto, Calgary and Vancouver, as well as in the U.S., where the company is monitoring the development of high-speed rail lines in several states, he said, without being more specific.

“Durable mobility is a growing trend in North America,” Poupart-Lafarge said in an interview in Montreal. “There is an important number of projects on the horizon -- in Canada of course, but also elsewhere in North America. Almost every large city has some form of durable mobility project.”

While Alstom is planning to build the railcars for the Caisse’s light-rail system at company facilities in India, it will also create a “center of excellence” in Montreal with about 100 engineers to develop integrated systems of control. The 67-kilometer rail network will link downtown Montreal with outlying areas, including the airport.

Poupart-Lafarge’s interest in Canada comes as the French trainmaker is preparing a merger with the transport division of German rival Siemens AG, which he says is on track to close in the next few months. Siemens itself has a presence in North America, with a base in New York City, where it is operating subway train monitoring systems.

“This transaction with our German partner is going extremely well,” he said. “There is a long process under way, linked to the competition authorities. We are still targeting a close for the end of the year.”

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