Engineering, Environment and Sustainability, Passenger Rail, Major Projects & Infrastructure, Operations & Maintenance, Signalling & Communications, Social Governance, Track & Civil Construction, Workforce

John Holland transforming people’s lives

John Holland


John Holland is a leader in end-to-end rail and transport solutions, from design and construction, testing and commissioning, and right through to operating and maintaining completed transport systems.

Examples of its rail heritage date back to Melbourne’s City Loop in 1978, to the construction and delivery of the nine-kilometre twin tunnels and five underground stations for the current Melbourne Metro Tunnel Project.

Today the rail and transport business is focused on transforming the way people travel and providing better connections across Australia and New Zealand.

Expertise in all parts of the rail life cycle ensures the focus is on delivering the best solutions for its customers and communities at every stage.

John Holland Rail and Transport Executive General Manager, Steve Butcher, talks to Rail Express about the company’s success and its deep roots in the rail and transport sectors.

“At John Holland, I’m proud to see that the rail and transport networks that we build and operate can transform people’s lives. That’s the impact that safe, reliable, customer-focused transport can have,” he said.

“We have 1200 people working in rail and transport across Australia and New Zealand, out of a total of 5500 direct employees all up within John Holland.

“There’s a further 8000 people working in our operations and maintenance businesses, which we operate with joint venture partners.

“Our design and construction capabilities are focused on using the best technology solutions and innovation to safely deliver value-for-money projects that minimise impact to the travelling public, promote economic growth, and connect communities.

“Our expertise spans concept design, including engineering; procurement; construction; and asset management.

“Our whole-of-life mindset means we’re not just designing and delivering for today: we’re thinking about the future.”

Butcher said John Holland’s in-house skills, knowledge, and resources, including the specialist machinery and equipment, allowed it to successfully deliver key rail, operations and maintenance services, and provide certainty and consistency of delivery across a range of disciplines, such as:

  • Track work
  • Overhead wiring
  • Power and electrical
  • Signalling and communications
  • Signalling design, and testing and commissioning
  • Rail safety

Butcher said John Holland specialised in the complex systems and processes that lead to the safe and successful design, construction and operation of heavy rail, light rail, bus, and other transport solutions.

This includes design management, design standards and waivers, and reliability, availability, and maintainability engineering.

“We carry out systems engineering, validation, verification, and safety assurance, commissioning and final safety accreditation,” Butcher said.

The group operates and maintains some of Australia’s largest public transport networks, providing reliable, safe, and customer-focused public transport services.

“Our train, tram and bus operations span the country, connecting hundreds of thousands of people to their destinations every day,” Butcher said.

“As an accredited operator, our transport services include the design, development, and implementation of customer experience strategies, network control and timetabling rail safety accreditation with regulatory agencies, along with asset management, maintenance, fleet, and depot strategies.”


Canberra Light Rail

“John Holland was proud to be part of the consortium that designed and constructed the Canberra Metro light rail network that opened in 2019,” Butcher said.

“This included the systems engineering delivery and integration to bring the network online.

“We now proudly operate and maintain the network as part of Canberra Metro Operations (CMET) for a period of 20 years. As the largest public transport project in the ACT’s history, Canberra Metro carries more than 15,000 customers each day.

“Our team is contracted to operate and maintain the Light Rail network – a 12km line with 14 light rail stops that connects Gungahlin with the city.

“Last year we were awarded the contract to deliver the Light Rail Vehicle Procurement, Retrofit and Depot Expansion (LPRDE) Modification to the CMET Operations and Maintenance Contract.”

This project which will prepare the CMET network for the Stage 2A extension of light rail to Commonwealth Park includes:

  • Procurement of five new light rail vehicles
  • Retrofitting of existing 14 light rail vehicles with onboard batteries
  • Maintenance of new Light rail vehicles and battery systems
  • Expansion if the existing Mitchell Depot to allow for the increased fleet size.


John Holland is part of the joint venture that manages the operations and maintenance for Metro Trains Sydney, across 13 stations from Tallawong to Chatswood.


 Sydney Metro

After leading the design and construction for Operations, Trains and Systems for Sydney Metro Northwest – the first stage of Australia’s biggest public transport project, Sydney Metro – John Holland now operates the nation’s first driverless metro as part of the Metro Trains Sydney consortium.

The new-generation metro trains are designed to make customer journeys easy – from level access and platforms, to multi-purpose areas for prams, luggage and bicycles, and real-time travel information.

“John Holland is now part of the joint venture that manages the operations and maintenance for Metro Trains Sydney, across 13 stations from Tallawong to Chatswood in Sydney’s north and northwest,” Butcher said.

“Services operate every four minutes in the peak in each direction. We have continued to be involved on the city extension including building the new tunnel under Sydney Harbour and excavating the station boxes, then where the tunnel emerges, we delivered all of the complex junction remodelling at Sydenham Station with the conversion from the existing Sydney Trains network.

“Along the route we are building the integrated station development at Waterloo.

“And as part of the Joint Venture operator, Metro Trains Sydney, we have been integral to the overall operational readiness and working with all of the teams getting the infrastructure ready to expand the operational railway.”

Metro Trains Melbourne and Melbourne Metro Tunnel

“In Melbourne, we’ve been part of the Metro Trains Melbourne consortium since 2009 and we have recently agreed an extension until 2026, which will mean we are operating the network when the Melbourne Metro Tunnel opens with the new fleet of High Capacity Metro Trains,” Butcher said.

“For the Metro Tunnel, we are part of Cross Yarra Partnership that is delivering the tunnels and stations.

“While our people are leading the Rail Network Alliance which includes the integration of track, power and signalling equipment, as well as testing the rail systems with the new trains to run in the Metro Tunnel. And that project team interfaces with our operations and maintenance projects integration team within Metro Trains Melbourne.”


“When I look at everything that happens on a railway there isn’t much we don’t do,” Butcher said.

Butcher said John Holland understands how to balance the competing demands from delivery and operations.

“We understand the importance of getting delivery right to ensure the railway works, so we are very focused on systems assurance and systems engineering in all aspects of delivery,” he said.

“We have a specialist rail engineering and integration team, and they are involved from the very beginning of every project to get the requirements right and focus on design management, then verification and validation throughout the delivery.

“Our operations businesses are focused on customers, making sure that their journeys are safe, comfortable and reliable, and that they have the right information available to them in multiple formats.

“So, when we are delivering infrastructure like the Gold Coast Light Rail extension to Burleigh Heads, we’re ensuring that the customers are going to have excellent journeys when that opens, and we of course would love to help with the further extension to Coolangatta Airport to support the critical tourism connection.”