Commuter rail system Metra has issued a request for proposals (RFP) seeking for a manufacturer to deliver up to 367 double-deck railcars, as part of its ten-year, $2.4bn plan to modernise its network in Chicago, US.
The contract is valued at approximately $1.3bn and Metra expects to take delivery of the first cars in 2018, which will be the first additions to its passenger rolling stock fleet since 2006.
It is reported that once the vendor is selected, the estimated time to expedite production is expected to be about 24 months.
Adopted by the Metra board in 2014, the plan will also include financing a critically needed rehabilitation programme for existing railcars and locomotives, as well as fund Metra’s costs to install a federally mandated positive train control (PTC) safety system.
The rehabilitation programme will see improvements to Metra’s 49th Street Shop.
Metra chairman Martin Oberman said: "This is a major step forward as we begin the second year of our long-range rolling stock plan, the first in Metra history.
"Replacing and rehabilitating railcars and locomotives will help Metra to continue to provide high-quality, reliable and comfortable service to customers for years to come."
Metra plans to fund the modernisation programme through fare increases, state and federal funding, as well as around $400m in loans.
The agency is also looking into alternative methods of financing to implement the plan and its 2016 Budget provides funding to start purchasing ten new railcars.
As part of the deal, 106 new cars could be delivered between 2018 and 2019, while 261 cars could be delivered between 2020 and 2024.
According to Metra, another RFP for new locomotive engines is expected to be issued when funding for those engines is secured and allocated.
Metra executive director and CEO Don Orseno said: "This purchase will reduce the fleet’s average age from 28 years to 16 years by 2024."