Metra authorises request for proposals to replace ageing fleet

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A Metra train arriving from Chicago downtown district. Credit: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock.
A Metra train arriving from Chicago downtown district. Credit: Rudy Balasko/Shutterstock.

Chicago commuter network Metra has authorised a request for proposals (RFP) to replace its ageing fleet.

At least 25 new railcars and 10 locomotives will be designed and produced under two separate RFPs.

Metra has said the exact number will depend on finding alternative sources of finance, after $1.3 billion from a state bond programme fell through, and making the most of its current funding by exploring alternative financing options, including leasing the new vehicles.

Metra has budgeted $200 million for rolling stock purchases until 2022.

Metra has identified modernisation of rolling stock as one of its highest capital priorities due to the age of its fleet. With an average age of 28 years, Metra’s fleet is seven years older than the average.

Chairman Norman Carlson: “Funding for capital transportation projects has never been more uncertain.

“We believe this is a measured, realistic and responsible way for us to buy new cars and locomotives with the funding resources we have on hand today.

“If the state comes through with a new infrastructure program, we will be able to accelerate our orders if that’s what the board chooses to do.”

The railcar RFP is expected to be published in the next few days and the contract awarded in the first quarter of 2018.

The locomotive RFP will be published during the third quarter of 2017 with the contract expected to be awarded in late 2018. Metra expects the first locomotive to be delivered by 2020.

The railroad’s board of directors authorised the decision on April 19.

The decision comes days after Metra launched a $216 million infrastructure project.

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