MBTA staff nearing recommendation on commuter rail contract

(matthrono/Flickr)
(matthrono/Flickr)

Massachusetts Department of Transportation staff will sometime soon recommend which consortium should receive the next commuter rail contract. MBTA Spokesman Joe Pesaturo would only say that the staff was expected to make its recommendation this month and that the agenda for next week’s meeting would be made available Monday.

There are two MassDOT meetings this month, including one on Wednesday and one on Jan. 29.

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Company, a partnership between Bombardier, Veolia Transdev and Boston-based Alternate Concepts, is seeking to retain its role operating the network of commuter trains. Keolis Commuter Services, a partnership between Keolis and SNCF, France’s national train service, is the other bidder.

The contract was originally set to be awarded in June 2013. MBCR was given a contract extension. In April 2013, the MBTA planned to spend an additional $18 million for a six-month extension.

State officials have also mused about the possibility of a longer-term commuter rail contract, which would allow the vendor to make capital expenditures. After a trip to Singapore, Hong Kong and Japan, Gov. Deval Patrick said he had met with “one of the most highly experienced operators in the world” who had considered the commuter rail bid but withdrew.

Speaking on Boston Public Radio in December, Patrick said he was interested to hear why the company withdrew and raised the possibility of seeking “some opportunities to think in fresh ways about how they could help us get our system right.”

Transportation Secretary Richard Davey has not participated in the procurement because he was a MBCR executive before moving to the MBTA.

According to an overview posted on the MBTA’s website, there are 133 commuter rail stations and more than 664 revenue miles of track.

Follow Metro Boston on Twitter: @MetroBOS


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