Thursday, October 18, 2012

Bombardier wins MARC operations contract

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Bombardier wins MARC operations contract BOB VOGEL

Maryland's Board of Public Works has awarded Bombardier Transportation a six-year, $204.7 million contract to operate MARC's Camden and Brunswick passenger rail lines. A five-year renewal option worth $205 million is part of the package.

Bombardier succeeds CSX Corp. in the role, and will assume operations in a transition period of eight months. Bombardier will offer work to existing CSX crews on both lines. The Camden Line operates over CSX right-of-way between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore's Camden Station. The Brunswick Line links the nation's capital with Martinsburg, W. Va., with a branch reaching Frederick, Md., also over CSX right-of-way.

Amtrak continues to operate MARC Penn Line service on Amtrak's Northeast Corridor, stretching from Washington, D.C. through Baltimore to Perryville, Md.

"We have identified a quality company with a wealth of experience in operating commuter rail service," Maryland Gov. Martin O'Malley said in a statement. "Together with our recent MARC investments, including new locomotives, new passenger cars, station improvements and safety enhancements, the MARC system is in better condition today than at any time in its history."

Bombardier's bid reportedly was lower, and registered better technical scores, than two competing bids. The company was chosen after an initial round of bidding by the state was abandoned due to a lack of companies indicating interest.

Bombardier has pledged to award nearly 8% of its contract to minority-owned businesses, slightly higher than the 7% goal set for the project, according to state officials. Interest groups have expressed concern over this aspect of the contract.

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