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Maryland's Board of Public Works last week approved a $58.1 million contract to purchase eight Siemens diesel locomotives for the Maryland Area Regional Commuter (MARC) rail lines.The contract will enable the Maryland Transit Administration (MTA), which oversees the lines, to enter a cost-effective cooperative purchasing agreement with the Illinois Department of Transportation to replace older electric locomotives, MTA officials said in a press release.Entering this intergovernmental agreement will allow the state to purchase the locomotives at a volume discount, MTA officials said. MARC currently operates 32 diesel locomotives and 10 electric locomotives. The eight new diesel units will replace older electric units that have either reached the end of their useful life or have been prone to mechanical breakdowns. Additionally, Amtrak will no longer maintain MARC's electric locomotives beginning July 1, 2016. The national intercity passenger railroad plans to retire its own electric fleet and no longer will carry the parts for maintaining these units.Amtrak has maintained MARC's electric fleet since 1983, MTA officials said.The MTA will maintain its electric locomotives beginning July 2016 until the new units arrive in the fall 2017.Each new locomotive cost about $6.4 million, with the remaining construction costs covering cab signaling, spare parts, tools, cameras, training and manuals, MTA officials said.
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