A $299 million contract to purchase 78 new light rail vehicles from Kinkisharyo International, LLC, was approved Monday afternoon by the Metro Board of Directors.

The contract also ‘includes four options to buy another 157 light rail vehicles for $591 million for a total contract value of $890 million for 235 new rail cars’.

Metro staff had recommended Kinkisharyo after spending the past year evaluating bids.

Metro CEO Art Leahy opened the special Board meeting by saying that agency has fallen several years behind its procurement of new rail light rail vehicles and that the agency does not have enough vehicles at this time to operate the second phase of the Expo Line and the Gold Line Foothill Extension.

Both projects are under construction and could be complete by 2015.

An effort to buy 100 new rail cars ended in late 2009 when a potential deal with another manufacturer fell apart.

Under the new contract with Kinkisharyo, 28 of the new rail cars are scheduled to be delivered by 2015 and a total of 62 by May 2016. If the four options are fulfilled, the delivery of the 235 total rail cars would be complete by Feb. 2020.

The new rail cars will also replace 69 aging vehicles currently in use on the Blue Line.

The other two firms — Siemens Industry, Inc., and CAF USA, Inc. — bid on the contract and both filed protests with Metro after agency staff recommended Kinkisharyo.

Metro is planning to secure $240 million in federal funds to help pay for the new rail cars.