01 January 2013

CBOSS Falls Behind

In October 2011, the Caltrain board of directors approved the first increment of a contract with Parsons Transportation Group to deploy the CBOSS train control system on the peninsula rail corridor.  The contract scope presented then was as follows:
  • $16.3M for the base contract, up through critical design (a government contracting buzzword with a very specific definition)
  • $35.3M for Option 1, for final design, factory acceptance testing, and the fiber communications backbone installation
  • $86.5M for Option 2, including procurement, installation, testing, training, certification, commissioning, final acceptance, and a one-year warranty.
The agenda for the January 3rd board of directors meeting shows that the goal posts have already been moved, and the criteria for whether to exercise Option 1 are as fuzzy as ever, namely "staff now deems it appropriate to exercise Option 1."

The work accomplished for $16.3 million includes:
  • Completed Project Execution Planning (PEP).
  • Obtained approval of Project PEP.
  • Obtained approval of Project Baseline Schedule.
  • Completed Project Contract Deliverable Requirements List.
  • Completed co-location of PTG project personnel at SF Caltrain Field Office.
  • Completed Project Preliminary Design & Approval.
  • Submitted Project PTC Development Plan to Federal Railroad Administration (FRA).
  • Commenced Back-up Central Control Facility Real Estate search.
  • Developed Caltrain Interoperability Coordination Plan for FRA and other railroads’ review and comments. Met with Union Pacific Railroad and other tenant railroads for establishing Interoperability coordination plan process and working groups.
  • Conducted monthly project reviews with California High Speed Rail Authority (CHSRA)-designated consultant.
  • Submitted deliverable packages as required by the JPB’s agreement with CHSRA. Met with FRA/CHSRA to discuss project status and addressed FRA comments in September 2012.
  • Commenced system and subsystem critical design.
The last item in this laundry list is the big one.  It was supposed to have been completed in September 2012 under the base contract, and "commenced" doesn't sound very done.  Passing a Critical Design Review is the milestone traditionally associated with completing critical design, and doing so successfully is certainly no picnic.  The latest project status briefing (2 months ago) shows this milestone in March of 2013, six months later than was planned just 14 months ago.

CBOSS is already late and over-budget.  Will anybody on the Caltrain board of directors notice as they vote unanimously to exercise Option 1?