VIA Seeks New L-D Rolling StockWritten by Carolina Worrell, Senior Editor
VIA Rail Canada announced Jan. 27 that it intends to renew its existing long-distance (L-D, regional and remote-territory fleet and has issued a formal Request for Information (RFI) for a supplier to “design, manufacture, test, supply, deliver and commission cars and motive power and ancillary equipment (onboard and offboard) with a prescribed capacity of car types (coaches, sleepers, diners, multi-purpose, baggage)” through the open competitive procurement process known as the “Long Distance Regional and Remote Fleet Renewal Project.”
The RFI for VIA Rail, whose nine L-D, regional and remote routes consist of 21 trains per week, closely follows that of Amtrak, which last month issued an RFI to potential suppliers “defining and describing the scope of the railroad’s overnight train fleet,” in its program to re-equip its L-D network. Implied but not specifically stated in VIA’s RFI is that the the same builders could be bidding on both contracts, potentially creating synergies.
According to the Notice of Market Consultation, VIA Rail will “proceed with pre-procurement activities” that include engaging in consultations with motive power and rolling stock manufacturers to solicit feedback on VIA Rail’s proposed technical specifications and maintenance’s scope of work, as well as commercial and contractual related terms. Through this consultation, VIA Rail says its objective is “to reduce the eventual in-market time ensure requirements clarity by continuing to work with motive power and rolling stock manufacturers through this consultative pre-procurement process to consider market input on both technical and commercial and contractual questions prior to the commencement of a formal procurement process.”
Participation in the Market Consultation for the Long Distance Regional and Remote Fleet Project, VIA Rail says, is open to any manufacturer that “can demonstrate to VIA Rail, in its sole discretion, that they can design, manufacture and supply complete intercity passenger seated cars and/or motive power, as well as ancillary equipment, either solely or in a formal partnership.” Interested parties must sign a non-disclosure agreement, due Feb. 17, to be eligible to participate and receive the draft Technical and Commercial Documents, on which VIA Rail is interested in receiving written comments.
According to the Market Consultation, VIA Rail will invite participants to a general information meeting, either in person or by teleconference, in March, as well as confidential meetings to review comments on the Technical and Commercial Documents draft in May 2023 or later. P1 Consulting Inc., which will act as a “fairness monitor” for the Market Consultation, will attend all meetings with participants.
VIA Rail is currently acceptance-testing new Siemens Venture trainsets for its Windsor-Toronto-Montreal/Ottawa-Quebec City corridor services.
As well, Amtrak recently awarded a contract to Siemens for new AIRO™ integrated trainsets that will replace Amfleet I equipment, its oldest.