Australia rail PPP contract extended

New South Wales has reached contract close on a public-private partnership (PPP) contract for Sydney Metro.

The Northwest Rapid Transit (NRT) consortium has signed an extension to the Sydney Metro trains, systems, operations and maintenance PPP contract. The extended contract is part of the next stage of the Sydney Metro project.

The AUD3.7bn contract package includes AUD1.7bn for new metro trains and core rail systems as well as a AUD2bn operations and maintenance component for NRT to operate the combined North West and City and Southwest lines until 2034.

The PPP will integrate the Sydney Metro City and Southwest project with the newly-opened Metro North West line to deliver a service along a dedicated 66km line with 31 stations from Tallawong to Bankstown.

As principal commercial adviser, investor and financial arranger Plenary Group worked alongside fellow project lead MTR to finalise arrangements for the pre-agreed extension to the existing PPP contract, which was awarded by the New South Wales Government in 2014.

Plenary CEO Paul Oppenheim said the Plenary and MTR teams had been working for more than three years in an exacting multi-stage process to deliver certainty and value-for-money to the State of New South Wales.

“It was a process that demanded early agreement on the technical and commercial structures, establishing a fixed price and detailed terms for the extension. The discipline required to achieve a fixed contract price is an outcome all parties can be very proud of in the current climate of price escalation. This is also a great advertisement for the flexibility of PPPs.”

The expanded project includes the integration of the existing Metro North West, the metro rail conversion of the Sydenham to Bankstown suburban line and more than 15 government contracted packages – all coming together in a single end to end metro system to be operated by NRT.

Hong Kong firm MTR will design, integrate and deliver the package with the support of subcontractors Alstom (trains and signalling), Thales (communications), UGL (radio) and Gilgen (platform screen doors).

Plenary will refinance the Metro North West PPP and raise new debt and equity to finance Sydney Metro City and Southwest. Both Plenary and MTR will increase their equity positions in the project as part of a long-term commitment to the success of Sydney Metro.

Oppenheim added he was not in a position to elaborate further on financing arrangements until the project had achieved financial close. Plenary and MTR are now working with the state government’s Sydney Metro authority to finalise contract details and achieve financial close, which is expected in the coming weeks.