By David Pendered
MARTA intends to replace all of its train cars by 2026 and has asked vendors to provide information on both new cars and the best way to extend the life of the existing fleet until the new vehicles arrive, according to bid solicitations that are due Aug. 30.
MARTA envisions the new cars serving as streetcars and able to travel freight rails – the later of which could be required for an expansion of rail service in Clayton County.
Regarding usage as streetcars, MARTA wants information on vehicles that can be powered by both a third rail that’s mounted in the track, as the cars now receive electricity to run their motors, and from an overhead pantograph – the charged wire that’s been laced over some downtown streets to power the Atlanta Streetcar.
To reduce the cost of new vehicles, MARTA is not enforcing the federal Buy America Requirements regarding steel, iron, and manufactured parts. MARTA can do that because it doesn’t intend to use federal funding to purchase the cars, according to the solicitation. That said, the solicitation observes:
- “MARTA is intending, however, to require certain aspects of Buy America that meet the spirit of the Buy America requirements, but without creating extra cost or risk to MARTA. MARTA is therefore interested in hearing carbuilder suggestions/ideas for what elements of the Buy America requirements can be met, how the carbuilder would meet those elements, and what costs or risks would be minimized.
MARTA has issued requests for information from vendors. One RFI is for new train cars. One RFI is for fleet maintenance. MARTA intends to use the information to write requests for proposals that are to be released in December. Bid solicitations show the RFP for new rail cars is due to MARTA around April 2017 and a contract is to be awarded around November 2017. For the car extension program, MARTA expects to award a contract in 2017.
MARTA’s trains are old. They’re to reach their lifespan in 2021. Each vehicle received a mid-life overhaul at some point between 2005 and 2008, a solicitation shows.
MARTA has two generations of train cars. The first generation, of 96 vehicles, is 36 years old. The second group, of 120 cars, is 31 years old.
MARTA intends to wring at least 30 years of life expectancy from its new cars, according to the solicitation. MARTA asks the carbuilding community to help it avoid buying cars that are going to become obsolete in short order:
- “MARTA would like to hear from carbuilders on how MARTA can protect itself from obsolescence, including technical specification and/or procurement requirements to (a) provide the newest of technology, early in its product life, but not so new as to be problem-prone, to reduce MARTA’s exposure to premature obsolescence issues (b) recognizing that obsolescence is unavoidable, what programs the carbuilder can offer to protect MARTA from the effects of obsolescence, including all of the subsystems on the car, that MARTA recognizes may not necessarily be provided by suppliers that are a direct business affiliates of the carbuilder.”