Bidding for MARC train contract canceled
Maryland has pulled the plug on the bidding for a contract to take over the operations of the MARC Camden and Brunswick lines from CSX -- saying its bid solicitation had failed to generate sufficient competition for the work.
"We were not happy with the competition or lack of competition," said state Transportation Secretary Beverly Swaim-Staley.
Swaim-Staley said the Maryland Transit Administration would revise its request for proposals in an effort to make it more attractive for bidders. She said it would take "a couple of months" to put the contract back on the market.
The MARC Camden and Brunswick lines are now owned and operated by CSX, which has expressed an intent to get out of the passenger operations side of the business. The Camden Line runs between Baltimore and Washington, while the Brunswick Line extends from Washington to Martinsburg, W.Va.
A third MARC route, the Perryville-to-Washington Penn Line, is operated by Amtrak and was not involved in the bid solicitation.
Swaim-Staley said CSX has agreed to extend its role as operator of the two lines. She said the railroad had expressed a willingness to work with the state to determine why the first round of bidding did not attract as much interest as anticipated.
"We did have interest but we did not have the interest we were contemplating," Swaim-Staley said.
The MARC contract was the second high-profile bid solicitation that the Maryland Department of Transportation has canceled this month. Last week the department decided to call off bidding for a contract to redevelop the Maryland Transportation Authority's two travel plazas along Interstate 95 in Northeast Maryland.
The solicitation for that contract was withdrawn before bids were opened. Swaim-Staley said the MARC contract, which was first put out for bidding in May 2009, was even further along and that a bid or bids had been received before the state decided the level of competition was insufficient.