By Paul Hemsley and Julian Bajkowski
The long-awaited $8.3 billion North West Rail Link in Sydney is finally showing signs of leaving the station after the New South Wales government formally received proposals from the two consortia competing to run the badly needed new line.
Scheduled to open in in 2019, the new line is the biggest addition to Sydney’s metro rail network in decades and is intended bridge the big geographical gap between the northern line and the western line that now forces commuters onto badly congested motorways.
The new service will run separately to the rest of the Sydney metro rail network and use new single deck rolling stock that can run more frequently and have more doors and shorter dwell times than the existing double decker cars that can face delays when packed out.
The NSW government has also opted for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model for the new line that will have one of the bidders awarded a deal for the Operations, Trains and Systems (OTS) component of the line in the second half of 2014.
Bidding consortia were shortlisted in May 2013 and included Northwest Rapid Transit and TransForm.
Comprising of companies from across Australia and around the world, Northwest Rapid Transit includes MTR Corporation (Australia), John Holland, Leighton Contractors, UGL Rail Services and Plenary Group.
TransForm includes Serco Australia, Bombardier Transportation Australia, SNC-Lavalin Capital, McConnell Dowell Constructors (Australia), John Laing Investments and Macquarie Capital Group.
Once the network is completed, the main ongoing role for the selected contractor will be to operate the North West Rail Link including all maintenance work.
But the successful contractor will also be required to build eight new railway stations; deliver commuter car parks for 4,000 cars; supply the new generation rapid transit single deck tracks; build and operate the stabling maintenance facilities at Tallawong Road; install tracks, signalling and mechanical and electrical systems; and convert the Epping to Chatswood Rail Link for the new rapid transit system.
Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said the “cream of the crop” have put a “massive amount” of work into these proposals.
The actual construction of the tunnels will be done by another contractor, namely the Thiess John Holland Dragados joint venture, which was awarded a contract worth $1.15 billion in June 2013 to start digging subways with a tunnel boring machine (TBM) by the end of 2014.
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