LA County Metro board delays decision on Italian rail cars

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It’ll be a couple of months before transportation officials in L.A. County decide on the next stages of a contract with an Italian manufacturer. KPCC’s Cheryl Devall says the company’s angling to build more light rail and subway cars for the Metro Gold, Blue, and Expo lines.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority voted to negotiate for at least two more months with manufacturer AnsaldoBreda. That’s the company Metro contracted with for 50 light rail cars, with an option for another 50. The first cars AnsaldoBreda delivered to Metro were three tons too heavy and three years late.

That prompted one Metro board member to tell company officials the agency should’ve cut AnsaldoBreda loose months ago. Metro’s already withheld $10 million from the manufacturer because of its performance. A company official acknowledged mistakes and promised to do better.

There’s another factor at work, though – one that by law, the Metro board can’t let influence a contract worth more than $300 million. AnsaldoBreda has pledged to build a factory, and the remaining rail cars, in Los Angeles. That’s generated support from labor unions eager for potentially hundreds of temporary and permanent jobs.