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Metrolinx has chosen five "prequalified operators" for its Regional Express Rail (RER) project, the agency announced late last month.The selected firms are eligible to participate as operators on applicant teams for the project's upcoming design-build-finance-operate-maintain (DBFOM) procurement process.Metrolinx evaluated the companies' approach, experience and financial capacity to deliver the expected scope of operations for the planned RER service, agency officials said in a press release. The five prequalified operators are:• First Rail Express (comprising First Group and EllisDon);• Keolis and French national railway operator SNCF;• MTR Corp.;• Toronto Regional Express Expansion (comprising Deutsche Bahn and John Holland); and• Trans Regional Rail Group (comprising Serco and RATP Dev).In July 2017, Metrolinx issued a request for qualifications (RFQ) for an operator to work with the agency as it finalizes arrangements for the RER plan.As part of the RER project, Metrolinx will increase the number of GO Transit trains it runs each week from 1,500 to 6,000. The project also involves electrifying core segments of GO Transit's rail network.Early this year, Metrolinx is expected to begin a "market sounding exercise" with interested parties for the DBFOM procurement. A request for qualifications for that procurement is expected to be released in spring.