SOUTHERN California Regional Rail Authority board of directors has selected Connex to operate the Metrolink commuter rail network in Los Angeles, replacing Amtrak with effect from July 1 2005.

The $210m five-year contract is Connex’s second in the USA; the group took over operation of MBTA commuter rail services around Boston in July 2003. The deal includes an option for a further five-year extension; it also covers the provision of train crews plus administrative and training services required to support operations.

The three-phase competitive procurement process initiated in November 2002 produced a shortlist of three bidders: Amtrak, Connex Railroad LLC, and TransitAmerica LLC. Amtrak’s proposal was deemed non-compliant in September, and in the final assessment Connex achieved the higher technical and financial score.

Connex plans to employ around 130 staff to operate the 830 km network of seven lines serving 53 stations. Metrolink is currently handling around 40000 passengers/day, and forecast turnover for the five years is €77m. Connex will use BNSF as its main subcontractor in Los Angeles, with new staff to be trained using BNSF’s 20-week certification programme. Anyone not required to replace Amtrak staff at Metrolink will be offered a job at BNSF.

  • At €104m, Connex offered the lowest bid to operate the bus and VAL light metro networks in the French city of Toulouse, where it was expected to take over from public/private operator Semvat on January 1 2005. Semvat, Connex and Keolis will be bidding for a second contract covering the period 2006-12.