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Bidder loses appeal of biggest rail car contract in CTA history

Natalie Moore recalls an assault on a woman on the L and writes that predators are not so easily spotted. | Sun-Times file photo

The Chicago Transit Authority is sticking with its decision to award the largest rail car contract in CTA history to a joint venture that includes a company owned by the Chinese government, officials said Wednesday.

The CTA has denied Bombardier Transit Corporation’s appeal of the CTA’s March decision to award CSR Sifang America JV the contract to produce the CTA’s next generation of rail cars.

Bombardier had contended the $1.3 billion deal was “rigged” and that the CTA “took direction” on the project from Mayor Rahm Emanuel, who touted CSR’s plans to open an assembly facility in Hegewisch and provide 170 local jobs as part of its offer. Only U.S. jobs were required as part of the bid, said Bombardier, which has plants in New York and Pennsylvania and a headquarters in Canada

Bombardier’s bid racked up 73.4 percent of all possible points in five areas, versus CSR’s 57.4 percent, Bombardier spokeswoman Maryanne Roberts said. Bombardier will be reviewing its options, including whether to appeal to the Federal Transit Administration or file a civil suit, Roberts said.

CTA spokesman Brian Steele noted that CSR’s bid was $226 million less and was deemed the “best overall value” to the CTA. Although Bombardier drew higher total scores, the two companies were close on the most important category, involving “technical” elements, he said.

An internal “CTA decision-maker” concluded that Bombardier’s claims “have no supporting evidence and are without merit,’’ Steele said.

CSR Sifang America is a joint venture of CRRC Qingdao Sifang, which is owned by the Chinese state, and CSR America, which has offices in Chicago.

Under the deal, up to 846 new 7000 series rail cars are planned over 10 years. Bombardier had supplied the CTA’s 5000 series rail cars.

CSR “looks forward to producing cars in Chicago, for Chicago,’’ a CSR representative said Wednesday.