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A suc­cess­ful Ke­o­lis Downer bid to op­er­ate New­cas­tle Trans­port will de­liver ser­vice im­prove­ments for com­muters, leading to its se­lec­tion over lower- cost bids, the New South Wales Gov­ern­ment an­nounced.

More fre­quent ser­vices and a new timetabling sys­tem that will link bus, ferry and light rail timeta­bles to en­sure the best ser­vices for cus­tomers will also be im­ple­mented.

NSW Premier Mike Baird and Min­is­ter for Trans­port and In­fra­struc­ture An­drew Con­stance an­nounced new op­er­a­tor New­cas­tle Trans­port to start run­ning ser­vices this year.

“We are in­vest­ing more than $500 mil­lion to breathe new life into New­cas­tle, and we will now have a trans­port sys­tem in place to sup­port the ex­tra jobs and ac­tiv­ity at the heart of a truly re­vi­talised New­cas­tle,” Baird says.

“New­cas­tle Trans­port will guar­an­tee bet­ter and more fre­quent pub­lic trans­port op­tions, giv­ing Novo­cas­tri­ans the world- class trans­port they de­serve.”

“For the first time, the op­er­a­tor will have to guar­an­tee a bet­ter deal for lo­cals. Ferry com­muters will get a ser­vice ev­ery 15 min­utes through­out the day. Light rail cus­tomers will get a ser­vice ev­ery 7.5 min­utes, an im­prove­ment on the ex­pected 10 minute wait,” Con­stance says.

“Un­der this plan, buses will cover more ground, a new night owl bus ser­vice will be set up to sup­port the week­end night- time econ­omy, and the city will get on- de­mand buses.

“In an Aus­tralian- first up­grade, New­cas­tle Trans­port will chuck out­dated timeta­bles in the bin, and work with lo­cals to cre­ate a net­work that works for this unique, boom­ing city.

“In ad­di­tion to more fre­quent ferry ser­vices, the fleet will also be re­fur­bished to im­prove re­li­a­bil­ity and com­fort.”

New­cas­tle Trans­port will start run­ning bus and ferry ser­vices in July 2017, and ser­vice changes will start in 2018 to min­imise dis­rup­tion. It will run the light rail when it opens in 2019.

Trans­port work­ers will be pro­tected, with all State Tran­sit op­er­a­tional staff re­tain­ing their jobs un­der New­cas­tle Trans­port.

Downer EDI’s joint ven­ture with France’s Ke­o­lis has se­cured a 10-year, $450 mil­lion con­tract to op­er­ate the new pub­lic trans­port sys­tem in New­cas­tle.

The con­tract is the first multi- mo­dal trans­port sys­tem to be con­tracted to the pri­vate sec­tor in Aus­tralia and will in­clude net­work plan­ning along with op­er­a­tion of the city’s buses, fer­ries, light rail and in­ter­changes.

Ke­o­lis Downer al­ready op­er­ates Yarra Trams in Mel­bourne, G: Link on the Gold Coast, and is also one of the coun­try’s big­ger bus op­er­a­tors with ser­vices in Western Aus­tralia, South Aus­tralian and Queens­land.

Downer also won a $1.7 bil­lion con­tract to sup­ply new pas­sen­ger trains for Syd­ney and main­tain them for 25 years.

The com­pany has looked to build ca­pa­bil­ity in seg­ments such as light rail de­sign and con­struc­tion and util­i­ties ser­vices in or­der to off­set the de­cline in its con­tract min­ing busi­ness.

In Septem­ber 2016 a con­sor­tium led by Downer won a $2 bil­lion con­tract to build high- ca­pac­ity metro trains in Vic­to­ria as part of a con­sor­tium in­clud­ing CRRC and the Ple­nary group.

But the com­pany also re­cently missed out on NSW’s $2.8 bil­lion in­tercity fleet rail con­tract, and failed in an­other bid to build a new light rail sys­tem in Can­berra.

The tran­si­tion to the new op­er­a­tor Ke­o­lis Downer, from New­cas­tle Buses and Fer­ries staff, will oc­cur in July 2017.

New­cas­tle Trans­port will start run­ning bus and ferry ser­vices in July 2017

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