VICTORIA’S Transport Minister Robin Cooper announced on June 18 that the MetroLink consortium led by Transfield had been selected for a 12-year concession to run the Yarra Trams network in Melbourne. State support will taper from A$38·6m in the first year to zero for the last two years of the franchise. MetroLink will get 201 trams, but will order 31 more as part of an A$150m investment package that includes building a 2 km extension from Mont Albert to Box Hill by June 2002.

MetroLink will also run a new 2·3 km tram loop through the Docklands development zone, which was authorised on May 20. Due to be ready for the opening of the Colonial Stadium next February. the A$17m loop will largely be funded by two private-sector corsortia with the state providing A$1m.

Winners were expected to be announced by early July for the Swanston Trams and three heavy rail franchises, for which tenders closed on May 25. Bidders for V/Line passenger include the Freight Victoria concessionaire owned by Rail America, and British bus operator National Express Group. NEG is understood to be bidding for Bayside Trains, against GB Railways and CGEA Transport. GB and CGEA are also bidding for Hillside Trains franchise, as is a consortium led by Singapore MRT.