A$8.5bn Aussie rail link attracts ‘outstanding’ interest

Six bidders have expressed interest in the multi-billion-dollar tunnelling contract for the North West Rail Link project in New South Wales, Australia. The project might include a rolling stock PPP.

In “an outstanding result”, six consortia including more than 60 companies have signalled their intention to bid for the contract to build twin 15.5-kilometre tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping, according to New South Wales Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian.

The tunneling design-build contract is the first of two further contracts for the A$8.5 billion (€7.2 billion; $8.9 billion) project. The third contract might be a potential 10- to 15-year operations and maintenance rolling stock public-private partnership, subject to value for money considerations.

The consortia which have lodged expressions of interest for the tunneling contract are:

– Australian building and civil engineering company Baulderstone and Bouygues Travaux Publics;

– China Rail 15th Group Australia, a subsidiary of China Railway Construction Corporation (CRCC), the second largest state-owned construction enterprise in China;

– Civilinc, a consortium of Spain’s Acciona Infrastructure Australia, Ferrovial Agroman, and Italy’s Ghella; 

– OHL Impregilo, comprising Spain’s Obrascon Huarte Lain SA (OHL) and Italy’s Impregilo;

– The RapidLink consortium of Japan’s Obayashi Corporation, McConnell Dowell Constructors, Laing O’Rourke Australia Construction;

– Thiess John Holland Dragados, comprising Australian Thiess, John Holland,  and Spain’s Dragados Grupo. 

The official call for tenders will take place in October, with a contract expected to be awarded in the second half of 2013. 

The North West Rail Link project is due for completion in 2019-2020.

The tender process for the two remaining contracts – including surface construction works, and rail systems, trains and operations – is expected to start later this year.

The New South Wales government is contributing A$3.3 billion of the A$8.5 billion project over the next four years, including A$360 million from this year's state budget.