Monday, December 30, 2013

MCBR plans new maintenance facility in contract-renewal bid

Written by  William C. Vantuono, Editor-in-Chief
The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., contract operator for MBTA commuter trains, says it will build a $65 million train maintenance facility on the south side of South Station to allow for more efficient equipment repairs and serve as a job training center.

The facility would be located at 100 Meadow Road in Hyde Park, Mass., a 200,000-square-foot site adjacent to the railroad, and the site of a former Stop & Shop supply facility, according to the Boston Globe. “That proposal, plus a plan to move MBCR’s downtown headquarters to Roxbury, was included in documents submitted to MBTA as part of the bidding for the commuter rail contract,” the Globe reported on Dec. 28, 2013. MBCR is competing against Keolis Commuter Services, which operates Virginia Railway Express commuter rail service in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, D.C.

According to the Globe, MBTA, “which has a policy to refrain from commenting on the commuter rail proposals, is expected to make a recommendation for the winning bidder in January to the board of directors of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.”

“If selected, MBCR will move forward with innovative infrastructure solutions, while ensuring that diversity and inclusion continue to be fostered on the commuter rail,” MBCR spokesman Scott Farmelant said in a statement when asked about the project outlined in the documents, which are not public, but were provided to the Globe.

When asked about elements of MBCR’s proposal, Keolis spokesman Alan Eisner told the Globe that the company planned to adhere to the “code of silence” called for in MBTA’s procurement guidelines, and “accus[ed] MBCR of leaking the information to build momentum for its proposal and sway decision-makers,” the Globe quoted him as saying. “‘This not only represents a blatant disregard for the procurement process, but is yet another attempt by the incumbent to unduly influence the outcome,’ Eisner said. ‘Keolis will continue to honor the integrity of the procurement process by not disclosing any information contained in its proposal to any entity other than the MBTA.’”

“In the past, Keolis has provided only a few general hints of what the company’s proposal contains, including a planned partnership with local community colleges to provide first-in-the-nation, specialized degrees in transportation,” reported the Globe.

According to the Globe, MCBR’s proposal says that the new maintenance facility “would fill a vital role, as trains must currently be taken to a maintenance center in Somerville for inspections and significant repairs, adding time, fuel costs, and labor expenses to routine maintenance. A facility on the south side of the train system would allow staff to more quickly and efficiently make repairs on train lines that radiate south from Boston. This new maintenance facility will provide MBCR with the ability to effectively maintain all locomotives and coaches . . . a critical step toward achieving our goal of enhanced operation efficiency. The $65 million facility, which would be LEED-certified and include a $3 million green power system, would train locomotive engineers, with two locomotive simulators. “This new facility will become MBCR’s cornerstone of organization-wide training and workforce development.”

MBCR, which is currently based at 89 South Street, close to South Station, said it would also move its offices to a location close to Roxbury Community College and Ruggles Station. “Both construction projects would be in partnership with Richard Taylor, Massachusetts’ first black state transportation secretary and one of the partners of Tubman Transit, a real estate development company,” the Globe reported. “Taylor said that though officials have not pinned down an exact site, they would probably erect a building larger than their needs, serving as an anchor tenant and renting the remainder of the space.”