The Maryland Board of Public Works (BPW) in the US has approved the Maryland Department of Transportation’s $58.1m contract to buy eight new diesel locomotives from Siemens for MARC Train service.
The deal will allow the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA) to enter into a cost-effective cooperative purchasing agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation to replace older electric locomotives.
According to BPW, by entering into this intergovernmental agreement, Maryland can buy the locomotives at a volume discount.
MTA administrator Paul Comfort said: "Approval of this contract will enable us to replace older locomotives, thereby improving the reliability and efficiency of MARC for the thousands of commuters, businesses and tourists that depend on this vital train service every day.
"This cooperative agreement also will enable us to purchase these eight new locomotives at a lower cost and save taxpayers money."
MARC currently operates 32 diesel and ten electric locomotives, while the eight new diesel locos will replace older electric ones that have either reached the end of their useful life or have been prone to mechanical breakdowns, creating service reliability issues.
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Apart from the locomotives, the contract also covers cab signalling, spare parts, tools, cameras, training and manuals.
MARC Train Service are operated in areas such as Harford County, Maryland; Baltimore City; Washington DC; Brunswick, Maryland; Frederick, Maryland and Martinsburg, West Virginia.
The new locos are being purchased as Amtrak had informed MTA last year that it no longer will maintain MARC’s electric locomotives from July 2016.
Since 1983, Amtrak has been maintaining MARC’s electric fleet and it is retiring its electric fleet and no longer will carry the parts to maintain these locomotives.
Starting in July 2016, MTA will maintain its electric locomotives until the new diesel locos arrive in late 2017.
Image: A MARC electric locomotive sighted at Penn Station, Baltimore. Photo: courtesy of Fletcher6 via Wikipedia.