Monday, October 19, 2009

VRE recommends operating, maintenance services contract with Keolis

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The VRE Operations Board has recommended awarding of a contract to Keolis Rail Services America for commuter rail operations and maintenance services. The contract includes train operations, locomotive and railcar equipment maintenance and repair, yard operations and warehouse management. The recommendation is being made to VRE's parent commissions, the Northern Virginia and Potomac and Rappahannock Transportation Commissions, for consideration at their November 5, 2009, meetings.

VRE has an opportunity to provide enhanced customer service with a more cost effective contract, stated VRE Chairman, Chris Zimmerman. Keolis was able to bring these qualities to the table along with vast experience. Over the past several years, VRE has expanded its facilities so the resources were in place to allow issuance of a competitive procurement for VRE's largest contract ever. The existing contract is held by Amtrak and was issued as a sole-source when VRE began operations in 1992. That contract expires on June 30, 2010.

"I want to make it absolutely clear that our selection of Keolis is in no way a reflection on Amtrak or their employees because they have been a loyal partner from the beginning. They are an important reason why we stand here today."

Keolis has committed to providing comparable benefits and seniority to any Amtrak employee hired by Keolis.

"We are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with Keolis and continue to improve VRE rail service," said Dale Zehner, VRE Chief Executive Officer. Zehner added, "Keolis has a proven track record as a major European provider for public transportation authorities, safely operating over 5,000 trains daily and providing service to more than 360 million passengers annually."

According to Chairman Zimmerman, "VRE is entering a new and exciting phase of its development. The Operations Board ensured VRE had the necessary facilities to permit a competitive procurement and VRE staff did an excellent job writing the solicitation and managing the procurement process. We look forward to working with Keolis to continue to improve the VRE operation."

If approved by the Commissions on November 5, 2009, Keolis will assume operations on July 1, 2010, with a transition period running from December 1, 2009, to June 30, 2010. The contract term is five years with two five-year renewal options.

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