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A joint venture between engineering group Downer EDI and France’s Keolis has secured a 10-year contract to operate the integrated public transport system in Newcastle city, worth $450 million.

The order 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 and G:Link on the Gold Coast, and is also one of the country’s bigger bus operators with operations in WA, SA and Queensland.

Earlier this month, Downer won a $1.7 billion contract to supply new passenger trains for Sydney and maintain them for 25 years, which lifted the company’s shares.

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, 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, forcing it to write off $13 million in its 2015/16 accounts.

 
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