Preparatory groundworks have already begun for the Québec City tramway, with crews moving underground utilities to make way for the planned light rail line. That work has not silenced detractors, with Premier Legault making cryptic comments about the cost of the tramway, and Minister of Transport Geneviève Guilbault implying that federal support for the project, at one billion dollars, is not enough toward the $8.4bn estimated cost of the current municipal “Plan B”.
The Mayor of Québec, Bruno Marchand, has also cancelled the tender process. Mobilité de la Capitale, the one remaining consortium, which had nearly completed its bid, announced that it had not so far been able to obtain the required financial guarantees. The city refused to grant a request for more time.
Mayor Marchand says the tramway project is still alive, and has announced the city will go ahead with the project as its “maître d’oeuvre” and will manage the works and raise funding itself.
In compensation to the consortium, the City of Québec will pay $14 million for planning work done, a small amount in comparison to the estimated $12-13 billion dollars the consortium had estimated for the finished project. The city will probably save money on interest charges, risk premiums, and other overheads built into a public-private partnership; and it will subdivide the project in three overlapping phases to keep a tight hand on costs.
The first phase will be the western third of the line from Le Gendre to l’Université Laval, the second stage will take the line to the city centre, and the last stage will link the line to the northeastern transit exchange station at D’Estimauville.
The mayor says the proposal seems to please the consortium, which would be ready to bid on portions of the work, and Alstom, the rolling stock builder, would be ready to work in the new framework. The government of Québec indicated it would be prepared to look at the updated plan, although Premier Legault has said he still finds the cost high.
Subsequently, Premier Legault informed Mayor Marchand that the Province has decided that the project must be reviewed by CDPQ Infra, which it has been mandated to do within six months. The Caisse de Dépôt must report back on what mode of transport would be most suitable if the project is to proceed, and may also explore reviving the Third Link project in some form. Meanwhile the preparatory work on the ground is still underway. Quebec City has asked Alstom for a delay in the start of manufacturing for the 34 Citadis trams which had been ordered from November 10, 2023 until early 2024.