Canada launched RFQ for high frequency rail project

Québec – TorontoThe Canadian Government has announced the Request for Qualifications (RFQ) for the Québec – Toronto high frequency rail project which will provide better and faster service between the major city centres.

The evaluation of the RFQ submissions and identification of qualified respondents will take place in April-July 2023.

The purpose of the RFQ is to identify and qualify up to three top candidates who will be invited to participate in the Request for Proposals (RFP) process, expected to begin in summer 2023. The procurement process will help select a private developer partner to work in collaboration with VIA HFR, the newly created subsidiary of VIA Rail, to design and develop the high frequency rail project.

The RFQ is the next step following the Request for Expressions of Interest that opened in March 2022. The RFQ launches the formal procurement process and covers the context and features of the project (such as current challenges in the corridor, purpose of the project, and objectives. It also approaches the procurement process, including the evaluation criteria regarding how proposals will be evaluated, security requirements for candidates, funding support for proposal development during the RFP process, and key principles of the commercial agreement for the execution phase. It will identify the key players in the project and how they will work together; and the project outcomes that the private developer partner will be expected to meet or exceed.

The high frequency rail procurement process is designed to encourage innovation, provide flexibility, and identify the optimal solution for the project. Therefore, RFQ respondents will have the flexibility to consider alternatives to meet or exceed the project results described in the RFQ. This would include opportunities to increase speeds beyond 200 km/h on some sections of the project, if it is cost effective to do so.

To qualify as a candidate for the RFP, RFQ respondents will be required to demonstrate a capacity for reconciliation with Indigenous Peoples by developing the project to create mutually beneficial, socio-economic development opportunities.

Delivering project will require substantial Canadian expertise, Canadian labour, and Canadian companies throughout all phases of the project, including construction and operations. The Government of Canada will be encouraging the private developer partner to maximize economic benefits to Canadians and Canadian suppliers while respecting Canada’s rules-based approach to international trade.

CAD 400 million (USD 296.6 million) has been provided by the Transport Canada and Infrastructure Canada starting in 2022-23 for the continuation of the project activities and undertake the procurement phase of the project. In November 2022, the government has selected the advisors for the development of the project.

The Québec – Toronto high frequency rail project covers a 1,000 km connection crossing major city-centres including Toronto, Ottawa, Montréal and Québec City.

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