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Getting Railcar Procurement Right

“Design it right. Run it right. Maintain it right. Measure it right.” These are the recommendations for building—and delivering—a reliable railcar, according to Kam Kwok, chief vehicle engineer, Toronto Transit Commission (TTC), who opened the session on rail procurements and partnerships.

Kwok stressed the need to tell the builders up front what is needed so there is no “guessing game.”

He also stressed that working out any issues that arise takes time. For example, the Toronto Rocket, the newest model of TTC subway trains, entered service in June 2011, but achieving reliability targets took three and one-half years.

Kwok elaborated on the four areas of design for reliability: 1) Design it right by laying the foundations; 2) Run it right to embrace the changes; 3) Maintain it right as tools for asset management; 4) Measure it right to track reliability growth.

Panelists agreed on the need for clear communication at the start of the procurement process. Doug Kelsey, chief operating officer, TriMet, Portland, OR, stressed the need for agencies and railcar builders to work together as partners.

“Good communication, a real-world testing environment and agreeing on performance measures with contractors makes a program successful,” he said.

“The biggest challenge is the unknown,” said Jesus Montes, director, rail vehicle acquisition and maintenance, Los Angeles Metro. “You need to make sure during the solicitation phase that there is great dialogue going on.”

Montes also said it is important to talk to “your own staff and customers, the operators and safety personnel to be clear on what the end product will be.”

Robin Stimson, vice president, business development, Siemens Industry Inc.-Mobility Division, Sacramento, CA, said the key to success is for “expectations to be clearly stated before procurement. It’s only fair to the car building community as well as stakeholders.”

Stephen Bonina, executive vice president, Stadler US Inc., Westfield, NJ, said it is important to know what a transit system is looking for, whether a “low-cost procurement, high-quality procurement, high-quality product or low life-cycle-cost product.”

Natalie Cornell, chair, Business Member Procurement Committee; secretary, Rolling Stock Equipment Technical Forum; and director business development, LTK Engineering Services, moderated the session.


Panelists were, from left, Kam Kwok, moderator Natalie Cornell, Doug Kelsey, Robin Stimson, Stephen Bonina and Jesus Montes.

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