Thales Canada wins contract to design rail signalling contract in Japan

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Thales Canada has won a contract from East Japan Railway to design the country’s first control signalling system for Tokyo’s Joban rail line.

The value of the contract was not disclosed but Thales says it will help preserve 800 jobs in Toronto and create additional positions in Japan.

The contract is the first of three phases that will be awarded before the signalling system is operational in about five years.

The CBTC (communications-based train control) signalling system continuously manages transit traffic using central telecommunications services. It promises to improve the line’s reliability by replacing conventional train control system while eliminating track circuits and reducing cabling.

The 30-kilometre Joban line has 14 stations and 70 trains.

Thales, a French-based aerospace, transportation and defence giant, was selected over Alstom and becomes the first non-Japanese company to supply signalling services in Japan.

“We are honoured to be the first international supplier to provide CBTC on the world’s busiest network,” said Michael MacKenzie, vice-president and managing director, Thales Canada transportation solutions.

“The work for the Tokyo Joban resignalling project will be designed and executed from our Urban Rail Signalling Centre of Excellence in Toronto.”

Although the CBTC system will be new to Japan, systems designed by various manufacturers, including Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B), are in operation in nearly 100 transit systems around the world, including Vancouver’s SkyTrain.

Thales Canada’s CBTC Seltrac system is in operation in more than 55 projects around the world, operating on more than 1,300 kilometres of railway tracks that carry about three billion passengers annually.

Thales Canada has 1,300 employees in Montreal, Quebec City, Ottawa, Toronto and Vancouver and generated more than $570 million of orders in 2012.

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