Connex wins in Boston
MASSACHUSETTS Bay Transportation Authority board of directors has approved the award of a five-year contract to Massachusetts Bay Commuter Rail Corp for operation of the Boston suburban network at a cost of $1·1bn. MBCR is led by Connex North America Inc, with Bombardier Transportation and Boston consultancy Alternate Concepts Inc, headed by former MBTA General Manager James F O'Leary.
MBCR will take over on July 1, after 17 years of operation by Amtrak, which declined to bid for the new contract. Other bidders were local freight operator Boston & Maine and the Bay State Transit Services Inc consortium of Herzog and Stagecoach. MBTA General Manager Michael H Mulhern hopes to achieve a seamless transition, and the board has allocated $15m to smooth the changeover. MBCR has yet to agree terms with the unions that represent 1 600 commuter rail employees.
H Southern California Regional Rail Authority has approved a standby contract with Rail America to take over the crewing of Metrolink trains in Los Angeles should Amtrak shut down. The agency began looking for a backup operator last summer when Amtrak was on the verge of bankruptcy. Running to June 30 2004, the deal is worth US$1000 a month. SCRRA is also to investigate the feasibility of bringing rolling stock maintenance in-house after the current contract with Bombardier ends in June.