USA: TransitAmerica Services Inc has been selected to operate Caltrain commuter services in California under a contract which is set to be formally approved by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board on September 1.

The five-year deal announced on August 18 will be worth $62·5m in the 2013 financial year, the first full year, and has five one-year options for extensions.

Passenger services on what is now the Caltrain corridor between San Francisco, San Jose and Gilroy date back to 1863, and have been operated under contract by Amtrak since 1992. The 125 km route currently has a weekday service of 86 trains carrying around 41 400 passengers/day.

Following the board's decision to tender operations, four best and final offers - including one submitted by Amtrak in conjunction with Bombardier - were ranked on cost, operations and maintenance planning, and the experience of the bidder and its management team.

'We made a business decision to go to the marketplace and the result is an opportunity for a partnership between TransitAmerica and Caltrain that can meet the high expectations we have for a safe, reliable, viable Peninsula commuter rail service now and in the future', said Caltrain Executive Director Michael J Scanlon.

TransitAmerica operates the San Diego Coaster, Dallas Trinity Railway Express and New Mexico Rail Runner Express services, and according to Scanlon 'demonstrated that they were the most aligned with our vision for the operation of Caltrain.'

Following contract signature, there would be a five-month mobilisation period before responsibility transfers to the new operator.