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Boston commuter rail operator sues after losing renewal contract

BOSTON (Reuters) - The Massachusetts Bay Commuter Railroad Co, which lost a multibillion-dollar bid to continue operating Boston's commuter rail system, said on Thursday it asked a judge to block the winner Keolis' contract, citing problems with its application.

MBCRC said in its filing with Suffolk County Superior Court that Keolis, a unit of France's Societe Nationale des Chemins de Fer Francais, misrepresented its record in France, omitted mandatory security plans for the rail service, and provided an unrealistic estimate of operating costs in its application for the $4.8 billion public contract.

The state-run Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority awarded Keolis the contract in January, and Keolis is due to take over operation of the rail network in July.

"The MBTA ignored its fundamental responsibility to provide a level playing field to both bidders and overlooked obvious deficiencies that allowed SNCF/Keolis to stay in the bid process," said Alan Moldawer, an attorney for MBCRC.

An official at Keolis did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

MBTA spokesman Joe Pesaturo said MBCRC's attempt to get a court injunction was "in blatant violation" of its current contract, and added that MBTA should be given time to come up with a formal response to the allegations.

MBTA General Manager Beverly Scott had said in January after the award was announced that Keolis's proposal presented "the best combination of technical quality and price."

The MBTA's commuter rail system is the fifth busiest in the United States, with ridership of more than 40 million per year. MBCRC has operated the system for a decade.

(Writing by Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

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