Artist's impression of metro train.

AUSTRALIA: Premier of New South Wales Morris Iemma announced the appointment of Interfleet Technology to oversee planning of the A$12bn North West Metro on July 27.

Interfleet Technology will be 'shadow operator' during the development and design of the proposed 38 km metro line between central Sydney and Rouse Hill in the northwest suburbs. The consultancy will provide an operations business plan and an operating and maintenance strategy, and advice on infrastructure concepts and delivery models. However, it will not able to bid to operate the completed line.

'Because the North West Metro will be Australia's first metro it is important we get international experts involved very early in the design phase,' said Iemma. 'It is inappropriate to appoint the operator of the final project now, that is why it is the role of the shadow operator to provide the necessary dynamics to ensure the designers get it right.'

Interfleet will begin work during August. The state government will release a product definition report by November this year, and construction is due to begin in 2010. An initial section between Epping and The Hills Centre is scheduled to open in 2015, with completion to Rouse Hill and St James in the city centre by 2017.