A RESCUE plan for Leeds' troubled Supertram could see contractors bidding for separate construction and operation contracts, project officials said this week.
The move would be a change to original plans, which are based on the traditional design, build finance and operate model.
The project team also wants to save money by cutting out £100M of utilities diversions and it wants to axe a 7km section of the line.
The changes are part of an effort to revive the project after transport secretary Alistair Darling scrapped it last summer (NCE 22 July).
Bidders will be given the option to split construction and operation, in what would be a first for a privately financed rail project.
The idea was initially pioneered by the Strategic Rail Authority on the East London Line extension, although the plan was abandoned when the Greater London Authority took over the project.
Splitting construction from operation, cutting out utilities and scrapping part of the project are expected to contribute to a £250M cut in project costs.
'We could probably get the scheme back to a total cost of £500M, ' said a Supertram spokesman.
Of this £355M would come from central government, and the rest from private finance.
He added that the project team hoped the revised scheme would gain Department for Transport funding approval before Christmas.
Shortlisted bidders are Momentis - made up of FirstGroup, Bombardier Transportation, Bouygues TP and Jarvis Facilities - and Airelink - which comprises Arriva, Siemens Transportation Systems, Amec and Transdev.