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MBTA releases commuter rail bid details

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. has operated the MBTA’s commuter rail system since 2003.

Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff/File

Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co. has operated the MBTA’s commuter rail system since 2003.

The Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority released thousands of pages of documents on Wednesday that reveal the size and scope of two competing bids to run the state’s commuter rail system — the biggest operating contract in state history.

The release of the proposals had been promised by the T since last week, when MBTA General Manager Beverly A. Scott recommended that Keolis Commuter Services be awarded the contract. But the document dump was hastened Wednesday after the incumbent operator, the Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co., filed for an injunction in Suffolk Superior Court asking the T to publicly release Keolis’s proposal and evaluation documents.

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Those evaluation documents have still not been released by the T. Officials at Mass. Bay, which had been widely considered the favorite to win the contract, have said they are mulling the possibility of filing a protest — or even a lawsuit — against the T for what they have called an unfair process. Lawyers for Mass. Bay also asked that a judge order the T to grant an extension to the 10-day window in which they can file a protest.

A Mass. Bay spokesman declined to comment Wednesday on the contents of Keolis’s proposal.

Last week, at the Massachusetts Department of Transportation board of directors meeting, Scott said that a team of evaluators deemed Keolis’s proposal the best choice.

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Mass. Bay, which has operated the T’s commuter rail system since 2003, is scheduled to hand over the reins of the rail operation to Keolis on July 1.

In the 1,535 pages of Keolis’s proposal, the French transit company promised to improve technology and adopt best practices from its other operations in Europe to provide faster, cheaper, more efficient service.

The documents laid out detailed financial offers, as well as proposals for operations and management, outlining strategies for safety, equipment maintenance, information technology, customer service, emergency preparedness, affirmative action plans, civil rights investigation policies, and preparations for the changeover.

In the proposal, Keolis officials made the case that inaccuracies in existing train timetables had been hampering on-time performance on the commuter lines. They said they would institute a much more finely detailed tracking system, which they said would help them rework the accuracy of those timetables to lead to quicker rides and fewer delays.

Keolis’s Massachusetts operation drew numerous examples of opportunities for improved services based on lessons learned on European railroads, particularly SNCF, the French national rail company and Keolis’s majority shareholder.

Among these examples; SNCF reduced the time trains stop at stations, adding additional staff at stations where stops last for more than 45 seconds, improving on-time performance.

In its proposal, Keolis said it would mandate that all crew switches occur at regularly scheduled stops, rather than switching crews in places where passengers do not board or disembark.

“This unscheduled stop can add as much as five minutes to the journey time,” the document said.

Martine Powers can be reached at martine.powers@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @martinepowers.
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