A joint venture (JV) of UK public transport operator Keolis and Amey has been named as the new operator of Greater Manchester’s Metrolink light rail network.
The JV will operate and maintain the network – now the largest of its kind in the UK – from July 2017, under a contract that will run for up to 10 years. Each year 37M passengers use the Metrolink.
The appointment follows a competitive process led by Transport for Greater Manchester (TfGM), which involved three other shortlisted bidders. It will take over from RATP Dev UK Ltd and MPT, a joint venture of VolkerRail and Laing O’Rourke in consortium with Thales.
The previous £334M contract with MPT saw VolkerRail and Laing O’Rourke being responsible for the design, construction and maintenance of the civil engineering and track and Thales being responsible for the tram operating systems. During the contract period MPT worked on a substantial increase in the Metrolink system, laying 61km of new track, including the 14.5km Manchester Airport Line.
“After investing so heavily in transforming the infrastructure, this was always going to be a pivotal appointment without compromise. What we have here is a long-term, affordable commitment to providing a world-class service,” said the TfGM committee chair, Councillor Andrew Fender.
“In reaching this decision, I would like to pay tribute to the operational staff who have played a crucial part in managing a period of great change with the delivery of the network’s expansion in recent years. The future looks very positive indeed.”
The KeolisAmey JV currently runs the Docklands Light Railway (DLR) in London, which claims one of the best performance and reliability records in UK rail.
“This contract award underlines the success of our long term strategy to develop a presence across all sectors of British transport and marks another significant milestone in our growing partnership with Amey,” said Keolis UK chief executive Alistair Gordon.
Amey chief executive Andy Milner added: “We’ve worked in the Manchester region for many years and know how significant Metrolink has been in supporting the growth and outstanding success of the region as a whole.
“We look forward to bringing our capabilities and expertise as part of our proven partnership with Keolis to ensure the ongoing success of this vital service, working collaboratively to create better journeys for Greater Manchester’s residents and visitors.”
The official value of the Metrolink contract is to be announced at a later date once the contracts have been completed, according to a TfGM spokesman. The initial OJEU tender document put it between £300M and £830M.
The contract award comes as 2017 marks Metrolink’s silver jubilee. It will include the soon to be completed Second City Crossing (2CC), a crucial part of an expansion that has trebled the size of the original network.
KeolisAmey said that it would inherit a fleet of 120 trams that offered free Wi-Fi to passengers, and would take on the recently approved Trafford Park Line extension, which is expected to come into service by 2020/21.
Launched in 1992, the 97km Metrolink network and serves 93 stops between Manchester city centre, Altrincham, Ashton-under-Lyne, Bury, East Didsbury, Eccles, MediaCityUK, Oldham and Rochdale town centres, and Manchester Airport via Wythenshawe.