Next step for consortia shortlisted for Adelaide train network

The South Australian government has released an Invitation to Supply (ITS)  to the three consortia that were shortlisted last year to run a privatised Adelaide train network.

The consortia are Adelaide Next, a consortium of Deutsche Bahn and John Holland with Bombardier as a subcontractor; Keolis Downer, a consortium of Keolis and Downer EDI; and TrainCo, a consortium of Transdev and CAF.

Once the offers from the contractors are received, the SA state government will assess the responses and decide on a final contractor by mid 2020.

The successful proponent will be required to improve services in the Adelaide area, and will be judged based on customer satisfaction, integration of trains with other public transport modes, more frequent and faster services, collaboration with customers and stakeholders, and accessibility improvements.

The contract will cover four lines within the Adelaide Metro network, including Belair, Gawler, Outer Harbor, and Seaford with branch lines Grange, and Tonsley.

While the successful consortium will operate the network, the SA state government will retain ownership over rail assets, set standards for levels of service, set prices, retain revenue, and mandate performance targets for the contractor.

SA Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government, Stephan Knoll, said that the model will deliver better services.

“We will be capitalising on the vast private sector experience to help deliver better train and tram services while maintaining control of the assets, fares and service frequency.”

The shortlisted consortia already operate services in other states in Australia, with Keolis Downer operating the Melbourne tram network, the Gold Coast Light Rail, Newcastle Light Rail, and a number of bus services in SA, Queensland, and Western Australia.

Transdev and CAF together operate the Parramatta Light Rail network as part of the Great River City Light Rail consortium.

Deutsche Bahn and John Holland are partners in the Canberra Metro consortium which operates the Canberra light rail.

“The companies associated with the shortlisted proponents have experience delivering better services in Sydney, Melbourne and Canberra, as well as in Europe,” said Knoll.

SA hopes to increase patronage on its public transport network, with Adelaide having the lowest rail passenger kilometres per capita, according to the Bureau of Infrastructure Transport and Regional Economics (BITRE).

“We are leaving no stone unturned with our reforms to deliver better and more customer focussed bus, train and tram services,” said Knoll.

Last year, the ABC reported that a Downer employee was caught sending quotes from fake news articles to Knoll about outsourcing Adelaide’s tram network.

Electrical fire on Auckland metro network

An electrical fire in a signal cabinet has damaged signalling to the south of Newmarket on the Auckland metro network at just after 5am on Monday morning.

The fire was sparked in a passenger train signalling cabinet.

Todd Moyle, KiwiRail Group chief operating officer, said the fire has been extinguished as of 8am Monday morning.

“KiwiRail staff are on site and will restore the system as quickly as possible,” Moyle said.

“We are working with TransDev to reroute Southern Line trains along the Eastern Line from Otahuhu. At this point, the heaviest impact is limited to trains running between Penrose and Newmarket. Western Line trains continue to operate.

“We apologise for the inconvenience to Auckland commuters but safety must be paramount. The cause will be investigated.”

The heaviest impact during the peak hour commute was stations between Newmarket and Penrose (Penrose, Ellerslie, Greenlane, Remuera) as trains couldn’t run on that section on the track.

TransDev re-routed Southern Line trains via Otahuhu along the Eastern Line to access Britomart and all Western Line trains continue to run following the incident.

Auckland Transport stated in an updated social media post that southern line services will continue via the eastern line and western line services are stopping at Newmarket as of 11.10am Monday morning.

Auckland metro rail seeking new operations contractor following network boom

As Transdev Auckland’s contract to provide metro rail services comes to an end, Auckland Transport (AT) is seeking industry participants to operate the city’s metro rail passenger network from 2021.

Mark Lambert, executive general manager of integrated networks, said AT is now undertaking a tendering process for a future rail franchise agreement, with Expressions of Interest (EOIs) now open.

 “We have the determination to reinvigorate the region’s rail services. With the City Rail Link to be completed in 2024 and the other recent rail upgrades just announced by central government, the future of Auckland rail is very bright,” he said.

AT are moving towards a more integrated operating environment for rail services, this will see the incoming rail operator having greater responsibility and control for service delivery for the next phase of rail public transport growth in Auckland.

Last year public transport patronage totalled 103.2 million passenger boardings.

“We have made great progress in reinvigorating passenger rail in Auckland with the system now carrying 22 million passengers per year, with growth of 5 per cent in the past year,” Lambert said.

An AT Metro train services spokesperson said that figure is the highest rate ever of train patronage.

The first three of Auckland’s new trains have arrived and are currently being tested and certified, allowing larger trains to run during the morning and afternoon peak times.

The remaining 12 new trains will arrive before the end of the year, bringing the fleet to a total of 72.

Peter Lensink, Transdev Auckland’s managing director, said the increasing passenger numbers are also a reflection of the work being put in by the company’s train crew, on behalf of AT.

“Aucklanders want to get to their destination safely, on time, and in the care of highly-trained and friendly staff,” Lensink said.

Mayor Phil Goff says investment in infrastructure and improvements to services are encouraging the strong growth.

“Our record investment in transport infrastructure and services has seen public transport patronage grow at more than five times the rate of population,” he said.

The current rail operating contract for Auckland metro train services has been in place since 2004.

Following the evaluation of EOI responses received, AT will shortlist participants, who will be invited to respond to the RFP process for the Auckland Rail Franchise.

The contract is expected to be awarded in February 2021.

Reduced dwell times to cut Sydney CBD light rail travel time

Sydney’s light rail has become 10 percent faster due to reduced journey times.

The 12-kilometre service between Randwick and Circular Quay had previously been running at around 45-50 minutes and this week the journey time will be improved to 40-45 minutes end to end.

Instead of adjusting speed limits, the journey will be quicker due to reduced dwell times at scheduled stops.

A Transport for NSW spokeswoman said more services will be added to the network to increase passenger journey times too. 

“The new timetable introduced yesterday (20 January) will boost the number of weekday services on the L2 Line by an additional 215 services per week, as well as improving the journey time between Randwick and Circular Quay,” the Transport for NSW spokesperson said. 

“Transport for NSW is continuing to work with ALTRAC to improve service reliability on the new light rail.”

The 19 stop service will become more frequent from the current foundation stage of running every 4-8 minutes between Circular Quay and Central, and every 8-12 minutes between Central and Randwick during peak times on weekdays.

Service operator Transdev told the NSW Parliament last year that projected travel times were 38-40 minutes.

Transport for NSW said they anticipated that there may be operational challenges and issues during the opening period of the L2 line, and there have been some unplanned disruptions to services.

“More than 1 million trips have been taken on the new L2 Randwick light rail line since opening on 14 Dec. On average, there are around 44,000 trips each day,” The Transport for NSW spokesperson said.

“Transport for NSW is continuing to work with the light rail operator to improve service reliability and journey time, especially in the lead up to the start of passenger services on the L3 Kingsford Line in March this year, funded through the existing project budget.”

Three consortia shortlisted for Adelaide Metro contract

Three consortia have been shortlisted to tender for the operation, maintenance and service delivery of the Adelaide Metro Train Services, the South Australian state government announced on Thursday.

Adelaide Next, Keolis Downer, and TrainCo will be invited to submit a response to the state’s invitation to tender, to be released in the first quarter of 2020.

Adelaide Next comprises Deutsche Bahn, Bombardier Transportation Australia and John Holland, Keolis Downer comprises Keolis and Downer EDI, and TrainCo is a consortium between Transdev and CAF. The state government will select the successful tenderer in the second half of 2020.

“We agree with South Australians and know that our public transport system has room for improvement,” said minister for transport, infrastructure and local government Stephan Knoll.

“What we are seeking to do is bring trains and tram in line with the same model that our buses have operated under for the last 20 years – that accounts for around 70 per cent of our public transport network.

“Encouragingly we’ve seen some green shoots and in the last financial year we saw public transport patronage increase by over one million trips compared to the previous year.

“The short-listed consortia all have experience in the management and service delivery of rail services, some of which in other jurisdictions in Australia.

“These companies have proven records in improving service delivery and customer experience and supporting employees through the transition from a public to a private operation.”