Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority has awarded a $172m contract to Siemens Transportation Systems Inc to supply a new fleet of 94 metro cars for Boston’s heavy metro Blue line. Due for delivery from 2003, the new vehicles will replace 70 cars built by Hawker Siddeley of Canada in 1978-80, and allow trains to be extended from four to six cars once a platform lengthening project has been completed.

The Blue line, which serves Logan International Airport, is currently at capacity during weekday peak hours, carrying around 57000 passengers a day. Siemens will also overhaul 24 of the old Blue line cars which will be used to boost capacity on the Orange line.

The deal follows a hard-fought battle with five other firms, including a rejected $162m bid from AnsaldoBreda. Breda was chosen in 1997 to supply 100 Type 8 light rail vehicles for the Green line, but these were delayed by technical problems and a string of derailments, with only 17 in service by August this year. For the LRV bids, MBTA weighted cost at 90% and quality at 10%. This time the weighting was 55% quality and 45% cost.

The order is Siemens’ first for heavy metro vehicles in the USA, although it is currently supplying the trains for the San Juan Tren Urbano in Puerto Rico. Siemens will handle project management, engineering, design, procurement, sub-assembly supplies and technology transfer, with final assembly to be undertaken by partner Transportation & Transit Associates Inc of Hornell, New York.