Urban public transport operator RATP Dev is bringing world-leading experience in fully automated metro services to the Western Sydney Airport line.
RATP Dev’s parent company, RATP Group, has operated the Paris metro network for over 120 years. The state-owned French company delivered the first high-capacity driverless line on the Paris metro in 1998.
Today the Group operates public transport services through more than 100 subsidiaries in 15 countries, transporting 1.5 billion passengers a year.
Now RATP Dev is growing its footprint in Australia. It is part of the Parklife Metro Consortium contracted to deliver the new Sydney Metro transport line to service the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport. Once the line is operational, RATP Dev will operate the metro line for 15 years.
Operator-led designs for accessibility
RATP Dev is an equity investor in the Sydney Metro project and is involved in the design phase.
‘Since we will be responsible for running the line, it is important that we are not just waiting for the project to be delivered,’ says Denis Masure, RATP Dev’s General Manager Australia & New Zealand. ‘We want to positively influence the whole delivery of the metro line. We have considerable skin in the game.’
Since metro lines are fully automated, reliability issues such as on-time running are largely taken care of. This allows the operator to focus on other issues affecting customer experience. That includes improving customer information, passenger flow management and accessibility.
‘For us, accessibility is not just about compliance with accessibility standards,’ Masure says. ‘You need to bring design engineering expertise and all the lessons learned through experience. This will ensure customers can genuinely access the service, even when it is degraded or under pressure.’
Every project and location is different, agrees Masure. ‘But we have an amazing opportunity with the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport because it’s the highest international level of service that is expected. Customers will be tired, they will have luggage, some will have language and mobility challenges. It will be a very interesting project to bring all our experience and technical innovations to welcome customers.’
Emissions reduction and sustainability
Efficient public transport service will be important for reducing carbon emissions. The project has committed to achieving carbon-neutral certification from construction to operation.
Measures will include offsetting carbon emissions during construction. The electric metro trains will use regenerative braking to minimise energy usage. Stations and depots will be covered in photovoltaic cells.
RATP Dev looks forward to introducing the technical innovations it and project partner Siemens Mobility have developed in working together. Their recent projects around the world include Paris lines 1, 4 and 14 and the Riyadh Metro.
Australia’s A$155 billion commitment to rail investment
Australia has been on RATP Dev’s radar for some time, explains Masure. The group is relatively selective when it comes to opportunities. But it has a strong appetite for investment in countries committing to new fully automated metro lines.
Three new metro lines are planned by both New South Wales and Victoria (Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport, Sydney Metro West and Melbourne Suburban Loop).
‘The pipeline was extraordinary,’ says Masure. ‘It is not very often there are 3 outstanding projects in a wonderful country such as Australia. It was the perfect timing for us to open our business in Australia.
‘The procurement process itself has been one of the best we’ve been involved in,’ he adds. ‘Sydney Metro has been very professional and has done an amazing job of sticking to their deadlines. A procurement of this size is almost never completed in the timeline expected.’
The Australian Government is investing in reducing road freight and utilising public transport to accelerate progress to net zero, says Austrade Investment Director Driss Sekkat.
‘Rail generates less carbon emissions compared to road – 16 times less for freight. Australia has committed A$155 billion in rail infrastructure investment over the next 10 years. Australia is seeking global partners to transition its rail network and decarbonise its transport sector.’
Austrade’s support in facilitating discussions
Masure acknowledges the support from Austrade’s global network, since starting to work with Austrade in 2019.
Austrade’s expertise was important in facilitating discussions at many levels, explains Masure. ‘At one point we were having discussions with another government agency. Austrade helped us understand the global perspective of the commercial matter and reaching a resolution.’
Further opportunities to transform urban transit
Masure stresses that RATP Dev’s priority is delivering on its promises for the Sydney Metro – Western Sydney Airport metro.
After that, the company is looking forward to future opportunities to bring innovation to Australia’s urban transport networks, with a primary focus on complex rail projects.
Go further, faster with Austrade
Published: 31 August 2023