A CONSORTIUM led by SNC-Lavalin and including Serco has been selected for a concession to design, build and operate the planned Richmond - Airport - Vancouver rapid transit line.

TransLink subsidiary RAV Project Management Ltd was due to start final negotiations in December, subject to approval from the British Columbia government. CEO Jane Bird hoped to sign ’a fixed-price, date-certain contract’, in February.

The 19·5 km line is scheduled to open by November 2009, before Vancouver hosts the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It would offer a 24min journey time from Richmond and the Airport to the city centre, about half of the current bus timing.

The fully automated metro would run underground from Waterfront Station to Cambie Street and 63rd Avenue in Vancouver, and then on viaduct to the airport and Richmond Centre. According to Ravco, SNC-Lavalin/Serco will assume ’significant risks that would otherwise be borne by the public sector, including construction cost overruns, tunnelling risks, on-time delivery and operating performance.’ SNC-Lavalin/Serco will operate the line for 35 years, with no operating subsidy.

Estimated cost of the project is put at C$1·76bn. Funding is coming from the federal government, TransLink, Vancouver International Airport Authority and C$300m from the British Columbia government, The private sector has offered C$200m, which leaves a shortfall of C$106m.