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Supply chain prepares to bid for South Wales Metro work

NCE stock rail

Transport for Wales (TfW) is seeking bids for its framework to build the South Wales Metro.

A contract notice will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) this month. The framework notice will be published despite Carillion, which was bidder Abellio Rail Cymru’s nominated contractor, going into liquidation. Abellio is expected to make an announcement on the future of its bid in the next few days.

It will invite suppliers to submit tenders to enter into a framework arrangement for infrastructure delivery of the £5bn Wales and Borders Franchise. New Civil Engineer understands the supply chain could receive contracts worth £1bn.

The framework suppliers will work for the firm which wins the £5bn Operator and Development Partner (ODP) contract, which will involve the operation of the Wales and Borders rail franchise and the design and build of a metro-style service on the Core Valleys Lines. It also involves subsequent infrastructure management of the Core Valleys Lines (the lines which will be used for the Metro), the operation of rail and related aspects of the South Wales Metro service, and the design and development of further rail schemes in Wales.

Heavy rail infrastructure outside of the Core Valley lines will remain with Network Rail.

For the Core Valley lines responsibility will transfer to the Welsh Government through Transport for Wales (TFW), subject to an agreed evaluation of the assets between Network Rail and the Welsh government.

A spokesperson for the Welsh government said the timing is to ensure that the incoming Operator and Development Partner has access to the framework arrangement immediately after its appointment. There are rail infrastructure enhancements across Wales that are reliant on the timely establishment of the framework.

The race for the next Wales and Borders franchise, which includes design and build of the South Wales Metro, has gone down from four to three with Arriva Rail Wales, which was working with Costain on the bid, pulling out.

The three left in the race are: Abellio Rail Cymru, which is working with Aecom and previously Carillion; KeolisAmey; and MTR Corporation (Cymru), which is working with Bam Nuttall.

Carillion was Abellio Rail Cymru’s nominated contractor.

Welsh finance secretary Mark Drakeford said in response to an emergency question in the National Assembly for Wales yesterday: “Transport for Wales, having seen the developments in July and during the autumn, have been involved in making sure that the necessary financial underpinning of bids is reliable and they have been in discussions with Abellio on that basis.

“In the immediate aftermath, the cabinet secretary has taken legal advice so we are clear as to whether there are any impacts from these developments for the franchise process. The company itself is taking action to make sure it is in a position to go forward with a bid if it chooses that course of action. The Welsh government remains committed to a final outcome in the tender process.”

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