The state Board of Public Works delayed action Wednesday on a $205 million contract under which a Canadian-based company would replace CSX Transportation as the operator of the MARC Camden and Brunswick rail commuter lines.

The item was withdrawn from the agenda by the Maryland Department of Transportation, which oversaw the bidding that resulted in a plan to award the contract to Bombardier Transportation Services. The company is the U.S. affiliate of Bombardier Inc. of Montreal.

Ralign T. Wells, head of the Maryland Transit Administration, said the delay was the result of questions about how the minority business share of the contract was determined. Wells said he plans to meet with representatives of minority contractors and to bring the contract back to the board for a vote when it meets in two weeks.

Arnold M. Jolivet of the Maryland Minority Contractors Association has protested the contract award, contending that the 7 percent minimum rate of minority participation set by the transportation department was too low. Bombardier proposed an 8.64 percent minority participation rate.

Jolivet said he will negotiate with the MTA in an effort to get Bombardier to increase its minority participation to at least 25 percent.

The contract was won by Bombardier after a procurement process that also involved Keloids Rail Service American, an affiliate of the French railway SNCF. That company is opposed by some Holocaust survivors who contend that SNCF has not fully disclosed its role during World War II in the transport of Jews and others to Nazi death camps.

Terry Owens, an MTA spokesman, said the postponement had nothing to do with the controversy over Keloids. He said the MTA does not expect the protest to result in a new round of bidding.

mdresser@baltsun.com