Metra is reissuing its request for proposals (RFP) for new railcars and opening it up to alternative car designs after it received only one response to its initial RFP for new bi-level gallery cars.
Metra plans to reissue the RFP later this year. Instead of requesting proposals only for new gallery cars, such as those now in use on Metra lines with an opening between levels, the new RFP will allow proposals for other designs. Several manufacturers make alternative cars that are used by other commuter railroads in North America and around the world.
Metra’s initial railcar RFP was issued in April 2017. It would have provided for 75 new gallery railcars with an option to purchase additional cars depending on responses to the RFP, the amount of funding available and whether Metra could use financing to maximize funding.
Only one manufacturer, CRRC Sifang America, responded to the RFP. As a result, Metra staff recommended issuing a new RFP open to other designs. Metra hopes the new request will encourage manufacturers of different style cars to compete for Metra’s business and result in the purchase of cars that are the most modern, most comfortable and best value.
“Opening up our request to alternative designs will foster competition between more car builders, which potentially will result in better pricing, a more modern car and a better experience for our customers,” said Metra CEO/Executive Director Jim Derwinski.
One important consideration will be to increase seating capacity. Since yard space and platform length currently limit the number and length of trains that can operate, increasing the seating capacity is a relatively fast and efficient way to meet increased ridership demand within our physical confines.
Some alternative car designs now available have lower, platform-level boarding that could benefit ADA customers and families with strollers when boarding and detraining. Others have different side-loading door configurations that could potentially lessen the time it takes passengers to board and exit the train, which would also speed train trips. Other features that will be considered for incorporation include heated floors and charging outlets.