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The California High-Speed Rail Authority's (CHSRA) board yesterday approved an early train operator contract with DB Engineering and Consulting USA.The firm is the U.S. arm of Deutsche Bahn AG. As early train operator, DB Engineering and Consulting will assist CHSRA with planning, designing and implementing the state's high-speed rail program.The performance-based contract won't exceed $30 million in its first phase, CHSRA officials said in a press release. "Bringing on an early train operator during the current design and development phase of the program will allow us to infuse commercial thinking into the design of the system, including station layout, technical specifications, and strategies to improve asset performance and control costs," said CHSRA Chair Dan Richard. In addition, engaging an operator in early decisions on safety, operations, equipment, systems, fares and schedules is expected to ensure that the system will operate as a "safe and successful enterprise," CHSRA officials said.The approach of bringing a commercial operator into the design phase is unique for major infrastructure projects, Richard added. DB Engineering and Consulting will act as lead operator, while Deutsche Bahn will act as a guarantor. Alternate Concepts Inc. and HDR Inc. have been tapped as sub-consultants.CHSRA's staff in October recommended that DB Engineering and Consulting serve as early train operator. The agency is working on a plan to establish high-speed rail between Los Angeles and San Francisco. More than 119 miles of construction is underway in the Central Valley. Initial passenger service is planned between Silicon Valley and Central Valley.
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