China-based T supplier keeps rolling

 

The Chinese company building Orange and Red Line trains for the MBTA scored another US victory, winning a $137 million contract to build 45 double-decker rail cars for the Philadelphia transit authority.

Since gaining a beachhead in the United States with its 2015 MBTA deal, the state-run CRRC has gone on a tear, winning contract after contract by bidding low and in many cases agreeing to build the vehicles or some of their components in the purchaser’s home state. CRRC said overseas sales of $3.8 billion accounted for 7 percent of all sales in 2015; the company wants to boost that percentage to 35 percent by 2025.

CRRC won the $566 million MBTA contract by significantly underbidding its rivals and promising to construct the cars at a new, $95 million Springfield plant. Hyundai Rotem, which came in second, bid $720 million, while Canada’s Bombardier bid $1.08 billion. In December, the T decided to replace all its Red Line cars, adding 120 vehicles to its initial order at a cost of $249 million.

CRRC won a second US contract in March 2016 when the Chicago Transit Authority agreed to pay $1.3 billion for 846 rail cars that will be built at a new, $120 million factory in Chicago. The Chinese company underbid rival Bombardier, whose bid was ranked higher, by $227 million. Bombardier alleges the bid was rigged.

A third contract for 64 subway cars was officially awarded to CRRC by the Los Angeles Metro earlier this month. CRRC promised to erect a facility in Los Angeles to build some of the components, while final assembly will take place in Springfield.

The Philadelphia deal was announced on Thursday. CRRC again significantly underbid its competitors, coming in $34 million below Bombardier and $47.2 million below Hyundai Rotem. Bombardier grumbled that Philadelphia will regret the decision, noting it scored higher in the technical bid evaluations.

Bombardier may be figuring that if it can’t beat CRRC, it should join it. The two companies have developed a “competitor-partner” relationship to work on several international deals, including a bid for 1,025 subway cars for New York City. CRRC has already secured an option on a potential subway car assembly and test site facility in Fort Edwards, NY.

–BRUCE MOHL


BEACON HILL

Dim the lights: The problem-plagued Department of Conservation and Recreation has pulled all 22 of its range trucks off the road to replace their flashing blue emergency lights with more standard yellow lights after a ranger was seen inappropriately using the blue lights during a recent snowstorm. (Boston Herald)

Speaking of dimming the lights, Attorney General Maura Healey was in the midst of voicing her opposition to an Eversource rate hike when the lights in the hearing room dimmed momentarily. Healey turned to Eversource senior vice president Jim Hunt and asked if he did that. For a summary of Healey’s speech, click here.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Fall River Redevelopment Authority tabled a proposal by Mayor Jasiel Correia to sever ties with the private Fall River Office of Economic Development and create his own economic development agency. (Herald News)

A state labor relations hearing officer ruled Natick officials violated Massachusetts labor laws by failing to fully negotiate with the police union the decision for officers to carry the overdose-reversing drug Narcan. (MetroWest Daily News)

WASHINGTON/NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL

It’s do or die for Trumpcare, as the president pushes for House action on the Republican health care bill today amid uncertainty over whether there are enough votes to pass it. (Boston Globe) Maybe governing isn’t so easy, after all. (U.S. News & World Report)

A Herald editorial slams Senate Democrats who say they will filibuster the Supreme Court nomination of Neil Gorsuch.

US Rep. Joseph Kennedy calls for Devin Nunes to step down from helming the House Intelligence Committee’s investigation of Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. (Boston Herald)

ELECTIONS

Half of all states are now considering legislation that would require presidential candidates to release recent tax returns in order to appear on the ballot there. (Boston Globe) The New York Times draws on some experts to breakdown some interesting findings in the sparse records of Trump’s anonymously released returns.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

Politicians will descend today on Amazon’s 1-million-square-foot distribution center — the sprawling complex straddles the Fall River-Freetown line — for a ceremonial grand opening, though the facility actually opened in September. (Boston Globe)

Twitter may sell a premium version of its popular Tweetdeck interface. (Reuters)

Gas stations are disappearing, especially in urban centers where land values have shot up. (Boston Globe)

The Maine affiliate of the Susan G. Komen breast cancer foundation will shut down at the end of the month as participants and revenues from the annual Race for the Cure, the organization’s prime fundraising function, have dwindled through the years. (Portland Press Herald)

EDUCATION

Rachel Skerritt, an African-American graduate of Boston Latin School, has been named its new head master, becoming the iconic institution’s first minority leader — but the third consecutive female to helm the school. (Boston Globe)

The principal of Masconomet Regional High School in Boxborough resigns after acknowledging plagiarism. (Salem News)

The Globe profiles Barry Mills, the former president of Bowdoin College who has been hired as the No. 2 administrator at UMass Boston to help straighten out the troubled campus.

Pat Kelsey withdraws as UMass basketball coach 30 minutes before he was going to to be introduced to the press. UMass officials say he may legally owe $1 million for backing out of the job, which was going to pay $800,000 a year. (MassLive)

Pittsfield is warning residents that it may have to cut 65 of its 1,200 public school workers and slice spending by $1.7 million. (Berkshire Eagle)

An increasing number of schools are banning sugary treats and telling parents not to send cupcakes or cakes to celebrate their child’s birthday. (Cape Cod Times)

HEALTH/HEALTH CARE

Scientists say they have discovered a way to reverse aging in mice cells. (Time)

TRANSPORTATION

Fact-checking the MBTA’s “structural deficit.” A key lawmaker says there is no shortfall. (CommonWealth)

A Pioneer Institute report says the MBTA has the highest bus maintenance costs of any transit system in the country. (Boston Herald)

ENERGY/ENVIRONMENT

Reversing yet another decision by the Obama administration, President Trump will issue a permit to restart construction on the Keystone oil pipeline. (New York Times)

Edward Krapels, the CEO of Anbaric, says Massachusetts should not forget about transmission when securing new renewable energy supplies. He says former governor and now Secretary of Energy Rick Perry got it right in Texas. (CommonWealth)

CASINOS

Mohegan Sun announces plans to open a convention facility in Connecticut and hopes to take business away from Boston and New York. (MassLive)

CRIMINAL JUSTICE/COURTS

Jonathan Williams, a North Carolina court administrator, has been named the new administrator for the state’s Trial Court, replacing the retiring Harry Spence. (Boston Globe).  Suffolk County probate official Felix Arroyo, who was suspended by Spence, is hoping that’s good news for him. (Boston Herald)

A judge denied bail for a Quincy man who is charged with first degree murder after police say he ran over his former wife with his car four times in the couple’s driveway last fall. He claims it was an accident. (Patriot Ledger)

Robert LeBlanc, a longtime member of the Democratic State Committee and former Methuen city councilor and town manager, has been suspended by the Committee on Public Counsel Services, the state office that oversees legal representation for indigent defendants, because he falsely claimed to have visited a client in jail. (Boston Globe)

Salem Police Lt. Brian Gilligan is back on top in private detail pay after a year’s suspension for double-dipping. Gilligan earned $66,000 in detail pay last year. (Salem News)

The attorney for a former Lawrence court officer who is charged with raping an inmate will testify that his client engaged only in an intimate moment with the inmate. (Eagle-Tribune)

MEDIA

Sesame Street will introduce a new character next month, a young red-headed Muppet with autism who goes by the name Julia. (Associated Press)