Procurement processes are usually very tight. The participants are discreet. The City does not comment. Confidentiality clauses are mentioned so as not to interfere with the process.
Siemens has chosen this week to deviate from the rule. In the corridors of the town hall, this exit is perplexing.
By the fall, Siemens and Alstom must each prepare a technical and financial proposal for the rolling stock component of the project, the criteria for which are already well established. The Project Office has chosen an overhead contact line to supply the trains with electricity. A reliable technology, summer and winter, and efficient on the slopes, we explained during the inventory in January.
Instead, Siemens wants to present a hybrid train, which provides power by wire, in the tunnel for example, and by batteries for about a third of the 19 km route. This information was first published by the Sun. Radio-Canada was able to confirm this information later.
This technology, it is said, responds to a wish expressed by the
candidate at the town hall, Bruno Marchand, last fall. He promised to bury the wires where possible. He was looking for an innovative solution.
The speech of
mayor Bruno Marchand has since evolved. We now need proven technology. This is where the bottom hurts. Although this is a constantly evolving sector, the technology is not yet used enough in the world for the Project Office to include it in its criteria.
The Quebec tramway should not serve as a test bed for Siemens.
Siemens recognizes that if the Quebec project uses hybrid technology and it is a success, it will become a calling card for the future.
The Quebec project is small, the risks are lower, but the momentum for the company could be significant, believes Gilles Levasseur, professor of management and law at the University of Ottawa.
But the defending group: this is not the primary motivation. We firmly believe that it is the right technology in the right place.
Nevertheless, Siemens chooses to be talked about.
The group has been making a lot of effort to be seen for a few months. In a recent video shot in Quebec and presented at the Assises de l’UMQ, the CEO, Yves Desjardins-Siciliano, praises the merits of hybrid technology.
It’s the best of both worldshe says.
The battery/wire duo makes it possible, according to him, to protect the historic character of the City without cluttering the neighborhoods densely populated with wires.
Siemens was also a partner in a very popular activity at the beginning of the year at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Quebec.
Back to square one?
Siemens will make its decision in the coming weeks. The group must decide before the work is too advanced.
If he withdraws, there will only be one group left in the race, Alstom. The City of Quebec will find itself faced with the same dilemma as a year ago: cancel the call for proposals or negotiate by mutual agreement with the remaining group.
The second option was ruled out by the Labeaume administration last year.
This time it might be different. It will be necessary to calculate what is less risky between negotiating with Alstom or resuming the process in a context of scarcity of labor and inflation.