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Bombardier wins deal to run Camden, Brunswick MARC lines

A rail company with ties to the Holocaust was not selected by the Maryland Department of Transportation to run MARC Commuter Rail Service in the state, ending a government furor that began more than two years ago.

MDOT will ask the Board of Public Works on Oct. 3 to select Horsham, Pa.-based Bombardier Transportation Services USA Corp. to run the Maryland Transit Administration’s Camden and Brunswick MARC lines starting Oct. 8. The five-year, eight-month deal is worth $204.7 million and ends June 6, 2017, according to the board’s agenda.

A five-year option is worth $205 million, the agenda said.

Transportation officials were unavailable to comment late Friday.

In June 2010, after CSX Transportation Inc. told the state it wanted to get out of the commuter rail business, a Rockville-based subsidiary of the French national railroad, SNCF, said it was a finalist to win the operations contract. The request for proposals was ultimately scrapped in December 2010, officials said, in order to drum up more competition.

SNCF became the majority shareholder of Keolis Rail Services America LLC in March 2010, following a deal that gave the railway 56.7 percent of Keolis’ shares.

But Holocaust survivors demanded during the 2011 General Assembly that lawmakers force SNCF to disclose its cooperation with the Nazis as a condition for bidding on future RFP.

A bipartisan group of legislators sponsored a bill — which passed, and was signed into law by Gov. Martin O’Malley — that forced SNCF to disclose its part in the Holocaust as a precursor to bidding on the MARC contract.

From 1942 to 1944, during World War II, 76,000 people were herded into cattle cars owned by the French national railroad and sent to the French border. German engineers then drove the trains to concentration camps.

According to the Board of Public Works’ Oct. 3 agenda, Keolis came in second place, bidding $218.4 million. Silver Spring-based Veolia/Connex Railroad LLC was a distant third, bidding $265.5 million.

CSX has been operating the Camden and Brunswick lines on a two-year, $118 million contract.