BLP advises In-house team on bid for Tyne & Wear Metro operating contract as part of £300m upgrade

Berwin Leighton Paisner (BLP) has advised the current management team of the Tyne & Wear Metro, on its bid to Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive, Nexus, for the Metro operating contract for 2010 to 2019. The other bidders for the contract are Deutschebahn and Serco Rail. The successful bidder will be appointed in January 2010. Matthew Hanslip-Ward of Denton Wilde Sapte is advising Deutsche Bahn and Nexus is being advised by Dickinson Dees.

Nexus has recently achieved government funding for a project to upgrade trains, communications and tracks over the next ten years and will spend over £300m to modernise the Tyne & Wear Metro, as well as running a competition which could see the operation of the Metro taken over by the private sector. The light rail network, which carries over 40 million passengers each year, serves as a key transport link through the centre of Newcastle, Gateshead, Sunderland, North Tyneside and South Tyneside linking Newcastle airport to the coast.

The BLP team is led by Project Finance partner Richard Lucas, assisted by senior associates Richard Murphy and Katherine Calder.

Partner Richard Lucas said: “Although arguably of lower profile, this transaction raises all the issues and complexities that one would expect to come across on a heavy rail franchise bid. The in-house team have made a good job of operating the Metro throughout its existence and their experience is fully reflected in a quality bid. Advising an in-house bidder against private sector opposition undoubtedly raises some interesting issues, the like of which haven’t been encountered in the rail industry since the first franchises were let on privatisation in the mid 1990s.”

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