WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff re-hired for $650m Canadian light rail scheme

The regional council of Waterloo in the Canadian province of Ontario has voted to exercise a three-year option to extend its light rail contract with WSP and Parsons Brinckerhoff.  

The two firms are the region’s general engineering consultants, and are responsible for overseeing the procurement process and providing programme and construction management services. The extension is worth about US$9m to them. 

The US$650m project is intended to bring light rail to 500,000 people in the Waterloo Region, which includes the cities of Cambridge, Waterloo and Kitchener.  

It was first approved by Waterloo council in February 2012 and is to be procured on a design-build-finance-operate-maintain basis. The region of Waterloo will own the system, including infrastructure and vehicles. It will also determine the fares and the service frequency and collect the revenues.  

The first phase, which got under way last year, is a 19km rail system linking Kitchener and Waterloo, supplemented by a 17km bus route connecting the southern terminus of the system in Kitchener to Cambridge. This will be converted to light rail in the second phase. 

Kevin George, senior vice president of Parsons Brinckerhoff, said: "The council’s decision to extend our agreement demonstrates the confidence that the region has in our team in Waterloo and the joint success that we have so far achieved. 

"It is a terrific example of the complementary skills that exist between Parsons Brinckerhoff and WSP; our partnership began on this project in early 2012 and now we have merged into one tremendous business." 

Parsons was bought by WSP from Balfour Beatty for $1.3bn in November last year.  

The trains will have a low doors, 336mm above the top of the rail; it will be the first time low-floor easy access vehicles have been used in North America. It will also be the first time that light rail and freight rail share the same track. 

WSP and Ramboll recently won a contract to build a light rail link between Finland’s two most populated cities.

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