Keolis lands MBTA regional rail contract

Written by Douglas John Bowen

Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has awarded Keolis Commuter Services an eight-year, $2.68 billion contract to operate MBTA regional rail passenger service for the Bay State. Two extension options of two years each could ratchet the total value to $4.3 billion.

MBTA’s decision Wednesday, Jan. 8, 2015, had been anticipated, but was still considered significant since the agency did not opt to renew its relationship with Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. (MBTC), the operator since 2003.

“Whoever doesn ‘t get this will be very, very disappointed,” Paul Regan executive director of the MBTA Advisory Board, told local media. Regan expressed some concern that the losing bidder might pursue litigation due to the contract’s value.

Barring any such action, Keolis is expected to assume operations on July 1.

“Keolis’ proposal presents the best combination of technical quality and price, and is more advantageous to the MBTA,” said MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott during Wednesday’s meeting authorizing the change. “Any delay in initiating mobilization activities could adversely impact the provisions of commuter rail services.”

Ron Hartman, executive vice president of Veolia Transportation, Inc., parent company of MBCR, expressed disappointment, saying, “We have been working on a proposal for more than two years,” adding, “The result was few questions and little opportunity to discuss our proposal.” Veolia Transportation in turn is part of Paris-based Transdev.

Keolis Commuter Services is part of Keolis, also based in Paris, and controlled by French National Railways (SNCF).

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