Consortium wins A$6.5bn Aussie rail contract

The NSW Rapid Transit consortium has reaped the A$6.5bn OTS contract, a major part of Australia’s North West Rail Link Project.

The NSW Rapid Transit consortium was awarded a A$6.85 billion (€4.7 billion; $6.4 billion) Operations Trains and Systems (OTS) contract last week, taking the lion’s share of the $A8.3 billion three-part North West Rail Link project.

The consortium – comprised of Hong Kong-based MTR Corporation, and Australia's John Holland, Leighton Contractors, UGL Rail, and Plenary Group – was selected to join hands with the New South Wales (NSW) government in what the latter deems to constitute one of the biggest public-private partnerships (PPPs) in NSW’s history.

The announcement from the NSW government kicks off the last chapter of the entire project’s negotiation phase, with construction due to begin at the end of this year.

“This is a landmark moment for the North West Rail Link and the NSW Government will now work with the Northwest Rapid Transit consortium to further negotiate and finalise this multi-billion-dollar contract, which is expected to be awarded later this year,” Australian Premier Mike Baird said.    

The winners will build, operate and maintain the 23-kilometre (km) fast transit railway line connecting Chatswood in Sydney’s North Shore (10km north of the central business district) with the Hills District (Sydney’s north-western suburbs).

On the construction side, the consortium is expected to build eight new or re-purposed train stations, undertaking all track installations, mechanical and electrical signaling systems. It is also mandated to deliver the new generation of fully-automated fast trains that will run on the link and to provide 4,000 parking spaces across five of the stations.

The all-encompassing OTS contract is the last of three, with the A$1.1 billion tunneling and A$320 million skytrain contracts awarded in June and December last year respectively.

The fast train system aims to service the new communities of the North West Growth Center, which is in the making. A 50 percent population increase is expected in the next 20 to 30 years in the growth center, bringing the number of residents to 600,000. The NSW state hopes the new transportation services will enhance the creation of 28,800 new homes and 49,500 new jobs by 2036, as a first step toward new health and education facilities, and more commercial infrastructure.

The government also seeks to bring a sustainable alternative to a region which has the highest car ownership levels per household in Australia.

The line is due to start carrying passengers in 2019.