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National Express To Run Melbourne Trams

The announcement of the successful bidders for the Melbourne tram and train franchises (under the Victorian government's privatisation programme) has seen the British National Express Group win three of the passenger franchises: Swanston Trams (12 years), Bayside Trains (15years) and V/Line Passenger (10 years).Swanston Trams at present requires an annual subsidy of AUD 42 million and the franchise will see this decline to AUD 20 million by 2011. There is a commitment to spend AUD 159 million in 59 new low-floor trams,provide electronic passenger information at 100 stops, not increase fares by more than the rate of inflation, retain the Heritage W-class trams and retain the Metcard ticketing system across the network. NEG is banking on a 40% passenger increase on its tram network. The franchise for the other tram company in Melbourne, Yarra Trams, has been awarded for 12 years to the MetroLink consortium, comprising Transfield (an Australian infrastructure provider), Transdev (the French public transport operating group) and Egis (civil engineers). The existing AUD 38.6 million subsidy is set to decline to zero by the end of the franchise term. MetroLink has committed to buy 31 low-floor trams and extend route 109 from Mont Albert to Box Hill by June 2002. AUD 20million will be spent on improved passenger stop facilities, the Heritage W trams will remain and the City Circle will remain a free tram service. Details of the remaining franchise (for Hillside trains) will be announced in the next few weeks.

26 June 1999

The Government has since announced that Melbourne Transport Enterprises has been awarded the 15 year Hillside franchise.

MTE is a wholly owned subsidiary of CGEA Transport Asia Pacific Holdings which in turn is owned by French based Vivendi. MTE will formally take over operation of Hillside Trains around the end of August.

23 July 1999


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