MD: MTA, Keolis mum on Bids to Run MARC Lines

The deadline for proposals to take over operation of two MARC commuter rail lines passed Monday, but the Maryland Transit Administration declined to release the names of bidders.

The lucrative rail contract sparked a fervor in the General Assembly this spring as lawmakers debated, and ultimately approved, legislation that would force the parent company of a potential bidder to disclose its role in the Holocaust.

From 1942 to 1944, some 76,000 people were herded into cattle cars owned by SNCF, the French national railroad, and shipped to the French border. German engineers drove the last leg of the trip to concentration camps.

SNCF owns a majority of Keolis America, which, through subsidiary Keolis Rail Services America, sought the contract to run MARC's Camden and Brunswick lines last year before the Maryland Department of Transportation scrapped the bidding process and started over.

CSX Transportation Inc. is operating the Camden and Brunswick lines on a two-year, $118 million contract but has decided to get out of the commuter rail business.

Keolis officials reiterated their interest in the contract as the Holocaust legislation was debated earlier this year. J. William Pitcher, the company's Annapolis lobbyist, said Monday the company would not comment on the MARC contract.

MTA spokesman Terry Owens said the state's procurement rules do not allow the agency to disclose bids until the contract is awarded by the Board of Public Works.

The disclosure law would require SNCF to scan its documents related to the deportations during World War II, categorize them and make them available online.

"We're hopeful that SNCF will do what it said it can do, and that is to comply with the law ... so that our survivors and survivors from around the world can see this information that has been kept hidden for so many decades," said Aaron Greenfield, a lobbyist with Duane Morris LLP who worked on the legislation on behalf of Holocaust survivors.

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