ACT News

International light rail players scout Canberra project

Some of the world's biggest transport infrastructure companies will consider expressing interest to be involved in the development of Canberra's light rail line, including the joint-venture which operates Melbourne's famous tram network. 

A company spokeswoman confirmed on Monday that Keolis Downer, the joint venture which operates Yarra Trams in Melbourne and the newly opened Gold Coast light Rail line, was currently "evaluating" its possible involvement in the line between the city and Gungahlin.

Keolis Downer, which operates Yarra Trams in Melbourne, is "evaluating" its possible involvement in the Canberra line.
Keolis Downer, which operates Yarra Trams in Melbourne, is "evaluating" its possible involvement in the Canberra line.  Photo: Gabriele Charlotte

More than 300 industry representatives joined the government's briefing on Monday and will be required to express interest by late 2014 to take part. 

The media were required to leave the briefing after Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell's 10-minute address. 

Keolis is described as the world's largest private-sector operator of light rail vehicles, operating in 12 countries and specialising in public-private-partnerships with government transport authorities.

Its partner, Downer, has provided design engineering, infrastructure and asset management for transport projects in more than 40 countries. 


The Gold Coast light rail project, which includes 14 trams and 16 stations on a 13-kilometre route between Gold Coast University Hospital and Broadbeach, has been closely watched by officials planning Canberra's line.

Other firms involved in the $1 billion project included McConnell Dowell Constructors and global transport giant Bombardier. 

Melbourne's tram network, first operated in the 1880s, has more than 250km of tram lines and 31,500 services each week. 

Australian and New Zealand train, bus, ferry and light rail service provider Transdev will consider joining the ACT government's process, set to include design, construction, procurement of vehicles and provision of service for two decades. 

The company, which also operates overseas and delivers more than 3 billion passenger journeys every year, operates 1800 vehicles and vessels in Australia.

Deputy business development director Shane Ellison travelled from Sydney for the briefing and said there was strong interest in the room.

"We wouldn't have been there today unless we had some interest in the project, so we are going to take away the information and seek other things and go from there," he said. 

Company representatives have met with Capital Metro bureaucrats and Mr Ellison said the information would build confidence in the private sector as firms move to begin preparing expressions of interest. 

"It will be interesting to see how the project actually evolves from here," he said. "Obviously it's not usually one company by themselves, but rather a group of companies in a consortium.

"If you want to be shortlisted to make a final proposal for the project, obviously you have to put your best foot forward ... so clearly it takes resouces, time and effort and needs to start well in advance of the end of October.". 

Mr Corbell said the privately operated line would be integrated into the government-owned ACTION bus network, providing connecting services and linking the MyWay ticketing system.