Hyundai Rotem was awarded the $109 million contract, yet the train maker doesn't even have a US assembly plant (a requirement of federal law). Also, while Rotem has built cars for European and Asian systems, the US is a different ballgame as we have much stricter safety standards than in other parts of the world.
The T claims that Rotem made the best offer - both technically and financially and that the four pilot cars will arrive on schedule in October 2010. The delivery of the rest of the fleet is due August 2011.
The MBTA's head man, General Manager Daniel Grabauskas declined to be interviewed for this article. He did reply with the following written statement:
"While the procurement process is only in its infancy, the MBTA is more than satisfied with the contractor's level of responsiveness and diligence to this point," Grabauskas said.The T also claims the selection of Rotem was not in any way influenced by former T official John K. Leary. Leary's son Richard is now head of operations for the T and John Leary has worked as a consultant for Rotem.
This is starting out like a typical bad Massachusetts-state fairy tale, huh? It gets better.
The only bidder for this project was Japan's Kawasaki, which has built rail cars for the T in the past. Kawasaki's bid was $30 million higher than Rotem's. Rotem is already behind on delivery for two other American commuter rail coach orders - one for Southern California's Metrolink and the other for Philadelphia's SEPTA system. Both lines say they expect deliver of their cars six-months later than first promised because Rotem ran into production issues sourcing the steel that is needed to make US train coaches.
In other news, today's issue of the Worcester Business Journal contains an article about the recent announcement surrounding the state's attempts to purchase the CSX tracks. It is a critical article about the announcement, which initially excited a lot of commuter rail passengers from the Worcester area but then disappointed everyone. The WBJ notes:
But we fear the entire transaction is at grave risk because the single sticking point between the state and CSX for as long as the state has been trying to get more commuter trains between Worcester and Boston still exists: The no-fault liability insurance policy the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority has had to accept since 1994 in order to operate passenger trains on CSX’s tracks is still in place and was not resolved as part of the state’s purchase agreement with CSX.
Murray has come dangerously close to weakening the state’s position by announcing the purchase and allowing the additional trains to run immediately. In exchange for some election season warm fuzzies (U.S. Sen. John Kerry rode the train from Worcester to Boston as part of the announcement) not hammering out a liability agreement could put the state over a barrel in the future.
Yesterday's The Daily News Tribune contains an op-ed written by Lt. Governor Tim Murray about the commuter rail deal.
Today's The Sun Chronicle features a brief article about the increase in parking at MBTA stations.
The Eagle-Tribune outlines how the commute into Boston will be for passengers of the Haverhill line between Haverhill and Lawrence. Due to replacement rail work, the MBCR will be busing commuters between the Haverhill and Lawrence stations on midday and peak-evening rush hour trains starting tomorrow through late November. The busing will not affect morning trains.
Finally, yesterday's Globe also contained an article about the MBTA's Green Line extension.