The approval comes after a 15-month bidding process that led to the comparison of five rail operators, Caltrain officials said in a statement.
TransitAmerica submitted the highest ranking proposal, which was scored in three major areas of criteria: the management, operations and maintenance plan; the cost proposal; and the qualifications and experience of the firm and key personnel proposed by the firm as the management team for the Caltrain service.
The first full year of the five-year contract — the 2013 fiscal year — is for $59.5 million, within the projected Caltrain operating and capital budgets, according to the Caltrain statement. Subsequent contract amounts are subject to annual negotiations.
It's likely that the familiar faces of those running the trains will remain the same; federal regulations provide job protections for current employees.
The major components of Caltrain's contract include the daily staffing and operations of trains, as well as inspection and maintenance of tracks, the passenger-rail fleet, rights of way, structures, the signaling and communication network, stations and other facilities.
As part of the contract, Caltrain will require TransitAmerica to achieve certain performance standards around management, safety, on-time performance, and other critical tasks prior to receiving its full management fee, according to Thursday's statement.
Amtrak has operated Caltrain for more than 20 years.
—Palo Alto Online staff