Keolis Wins its First Heavy Rail Contract in Australia

On 18 September 2020, Keolis Downer, Keolis’ Australian subsidiary, was awarded a 1.32 billion euro (AUS$ 2.14 billion) contract by South Australia’s Department of Infrastructure and Transport to operate and maintain the commuter rail network of Adelaide in the State of South Australia. This is the first time this network will be managed by a private operator.

The contract, which takes effect on 31 January 2021, is for an initial period of eight years, extendible to twelve years. As part of this contract, Keolis Downer will deliver more services and improve passenger experience.

Corey Wingard, South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport, declared: “This is about delivering better outcomes and a modern public transport system for South Australians. Keolis Downer places safety and customers at its core and is focused on making public transport the first choice and delivering a world-class experience in providing a train service that is reliable, safe, efficient and integrated. This contract delivers greater benefits to customers and will see an operator with demonstrated experience bringing that expertise to Adelaide”.

Bernard Tabary, CEO International at Keolis Group said: “We are delighted that the Government of South Australia has placed its trust in us. We are looking forward to delivering better train services to residents and visitors of Adelaide, improving passenger experience and encouraging more people onto public transport. To do so, we will harness our experience and expertise in our rail operations across the UK, the US and France”.

Keolis Downer has been present in Australia for more than ten years and operates modes including tram, bus, ferries, autonomous electric vehicles, on-demand real-time transport and now commuter rail.

A modernised network and enhanced passenger experience

This 131-kilometre long network, which includes 39 kilometres of electrified track, features four main lines – Belair, Gawler, Outer Harbor, and Seaford, and two spur lines, Grange and Tonsley (which will be extended by 650 m in 2020 with the Flinders extension) and serving 89 stations.

The network’s fleet of 92 trains, 22 of which run electrically, will be completed by 12 other electric trains starting in 2021.

For a more connected transport scheme, passenger information will be enhanced by better real-time information. Keolis Downer staff will be equipped with new devices to meet passengers needs more effectively by keeping them informed about train times and traffic conditions in real time.

More than a decade in Australia

Keolis Downer1 is a joint venture that was created in 2009. It counts nearly 5,000 employees and carries more than 250 million passenger per year across five states2. Today, Keolis Downer operates Newcastle’s multimodal network featuring tram, bus, ferries and real-time on-demand transport; Newcastle is Australia’s first multimodal network to be privately operated. In addition, Keolis Downer operates and maintains the tram networks of Melbourne (the largest and oldest tram network in the world), Newcastle and the Gold Coast, as well as bus networks in three states (Western Australia, South Australia and Queensland). The Group also provides first and last mile mobility solutions including autonomous electric vehicles (currently deployed in Adelaide, Newcastle and Sydney), and on-demand transport in real-time (in Sydney, Newcastle, Mount Barker and the Barossa Valley).

Keolis consolidates its expertise in rail operations around the world

Excluding Adelaide rail network, Keolis operates 15 rail networks, representing 7,000 kilometres of track, in France (Blanc Argent), Germany (in the region of North Rhine- Westphalia), the Netherlands (Province of Overijssel and Twente), United Kingdom (around London and Wales) and the United States (Boston, Washington DC).

Adelaide suburban rail network in figures

  • 131 km long network
  • 6 lines
  • 89 stations
  • 92 trains including 22 electric ones
  • 4 depots
  • 14.2 million passengers carried in 2018


1Downer is a leading provider of engineering, transport and infrastructure services in Australia and New Zealand

2Western Australia, South Australia, Victoria, New South Wales, Queensland

About Keolis

Keolis is a pioneer in developing public transport systems and works alongside public decision-makers who want to turn shared mobility systems into levers to enhance the appeal and vitality of their regions. A world leader in operating automated metro and tramway systems, Keolis is supported by a sustained and open innovative policy alongside all of its partners and subsidiaries –Kisio, EFFIA, Keolis Santé and Cykleo –to bolster its core business and develop new innovative and bespoke shared mobility solutions, including trains, buses and coaches, trolleybuses, shared car solutions, river and sea shuttle services, bike share services, car sharing, fully electric driverless shuttles and urban cable cars. In France, Keolis is the second largest parking company through its subsidiary EFFIA, and the country’s leading medical transport solution since the creation of Keolis Santé in July 2017. The Group is 70%-owned by SNCF and 30%-owned by the Caisse de Dépôt et Placement du Québec (Quebec Deposit and Investment Fund), and employs some 68,500 people in 15 countries. In 2019, it posted revenue of €6.6 billion. In 2019, 3.4 billion passengers used one of Keolis’ shared mobility services.

* Australia, Belgium, Canada, China, Denmark, France, Germany, India, the Netherlands, Norway, Qatar, Senegal, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.