SEPTA to overhaul 11 more regional rail cars in South Philly for $6.28 million

SEPTA’s Board approved a contract with Hyundai-Rotem last week to rehabilitate 11 Bombardier regional rail cars for $6.28 million. The work will be performed at Hyundai-Rotem’s South Philadelphia factory, which was built when SEPTA hired the South Korean company to build 120 new Silverliner V rail cars in 2006.

The contract means another year or so of work at the plant, which is finishing an earlier contract to refurbish 22 Bombardier rail cars. Work to overhaul those 22 rail cars was funded out of the damages from the Silverliners arriving more than three years late. Under the $274 million Silverliner contract, Hyundai-Rotem was liable for $200 per day that each of the cars was delivered late. That resulted in around 65,000 late days totalling $13 million.

The Bombardier push-pull commuter rail cars were built in 1986, says SEPTA, and are used on regional rail lines. Like rail coaches, locomotive cab cars also contain a control cab for engineers. Cab cars allow trains to be pushed from behind, as well as pulled, allowing a train to quickly switch direction when it reaches the end of the line.  

The $6.28 million contract was awarded as a sole-source, no bid contract, allowable under the Pennsylvania procurement code because of the preexisting contract for similar rehab work.

Hyundai-Rotem is currently competing to win a SEPTA contract for 11 multi-level cab cars and 34 multi-level coach cars to be fully delivered by 2020. That contract would also give SEPTA an option to purchase 10 more multi-level coach cars.

Representatives from the Transport Workers Union Local (TWU) 234 and from the National Coalition of African American Organizations have petitioned SEPTA’s board to award the contract to Hyundai-Rotem, thereby keeping the multi-million dollar contract in Philadelphia.

SEPTA declined to comment on the multi-level car contract while the bid process was ongoing.  

SEPTA has repeatedly pushed back the proposal deadline during the multi-level car bid process, issuing ten addenda to date. Final bids are now due March 15th.

SEPTA has budgeted $201 million over the next four years to purchase multi-level cars and new locomotives to push them. The new cars would provide 20 to 30 percent more seats than the Silverliners, which sit 105 per car.

SEPTA’s Regional Rail lines have seen a 50 percent increase in ridership over the last fifteen years. During rush hours, the trains are packed, and simply adding more coach cars isn’t an option on most lines – they already stretch the length of the suburban stations they serve.

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