OAKLAND -- In a big step toward extending rail service to Antioch, BART has awarded a $58 million contract to the Swiss company Stadler Bussnang to build eight diesel rail cars for eBART service in eastern Contra Costa County.

The BART board's contract award on Thursday night keeps the transit agency on track for a late 2017 debut of the diesel train service, dubbed eBART.

Smaller and narrower than BART's electric cars, the self-propelled diesel cars will travel 10 miles from the Pittsburg-Bay Point station, the end point for regular BART tracks, to a planned new station on Hillcrest Avenue in Antioch. The trains will ride down the middle of Highway 4.

eBART train
eBART train

Stadler will manufacture the cars at its headquarters in Bussnang, Switzerland, where it makes rail cars used in many countries.

Under the contract, BART will pay $58 million for the eight-car order, plus another $5.4 million for spare parts.

The vote to approve the contract was 6-2. BART Directors Tom Radulovich of San Francisco and Rebecca Saltzman of Oakland voted no.

Radulovich objected because the cars will be powered by diesel instead of electricity like regular BART train cars.

"We will lock ourselves into fossil fuel forever," he said. "It will not be very green."

BART managers have said the $462 million price tag for eBART is about 60 percent cheaper than conventional BART rail service.

Stadler Bussnang was the only company that submitted a formal proposal for the car contract, which went through a competitive negotiation that considered price, technical quality and quality assurance.

Contact Denis Cuff at 925-943-8267 or dcuff@bayareanewsgroup.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/deniscuff