Friday, May 21, 2010

Amtrak to delay departure from VRE

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Amtrak said Thursday that officials from Virginia Railway Express have asked it to continue operating VRE trains beyond June 28, when Amtrak’s contract was to expire. VRE acknowledged the request, while also alluding that Amtrak was obstructing the transition of operations.

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Amtrak President and CEO Joseph Boardman said Amtrak wants to help VRE and ensure VRE passengers are not negatively impacted by the “inability” of contractor Keolis Rail Services America to start operations. However, he said, if Keolis is unable to meet its contractual obligations, then VRE should re-bid the contract.

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Keolis Rail Services America last October was chosen to VRE to assume operations. But VRE Chairman Paul Milde reportedly said VRE has asked Amtrak for breathing room because Amtrak is interfering with the transition. He also said VRE has asked members of Congress to intervene in the matter, claiming Amtrak was hindering the transition process.

For its part, “We are prepared to take over service on the 28th,” said Gregg Baxter, Keolis Rail Services America general manager.

Keolis Rail Services America is part of the Keolis Group, based in Paris.