CANADA: Infrastructure Ontario and regional transport authority Metrolinx have issued a request for qualifications seeking interest in the estimated C$1bn contract to design, build, finance and maintain the Finch West Light Rail Transit project in Toronto.

The project includes 11 km of segregated light rail line along Finch Avenue West between Humber College and the future Finch West station at Keele Street on the Toronto – York Spadina subway extension. There would be 18 surface stops and an underground interchange with the metro, plus a depot to maintain up to 75 light rail vehicles for the Finch West and future Jane LRT lines.

Announcing the RFQ on September 8, Ontario’s Ministry of Transportation said the aim is to ‘help transform Finch Avenue West into a vibrant community, accessible to motorists, transit riders, cyclists and pedestrians’. The light rail service would be ‘faster, more frequent and reliable’ than the existing bus service, which includes some of the city’s busiest routes.

The project is to be undertaken through Infrastructure Ontario’s Alternative Financing & Procurement model, which aims to transfer ‘appropriate’ design, construction, financing and maintenance risks to the private sector. The line is to be publicly owned, and will be operated by Toronto Transit Commission.

Responses to the RFQ will be evaluated on the basis of relevant design and construction experience and capacity to finance and deliver a project of the required size and complexity. Prequalified groups will then be invited to respond to a request for proposals.

Financial close and the start of construction are planned for 2017, and opening in late 2021. Ridership is predicted to be 2 250 passengers/h in the peak direction by 2031.