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South Australia’s transport department says it would breach ethical standards to confirm a taxpayer funded ‘loser’ payout worth up $1 million for unsuccessful bidders for a lucrative train contract.
The payment is understood to have been offered to potential operators of Adelaide’s passenger train system in a bid to keep them in the process.
The Advertiser have been told that three potential operators – Keolis Downer, TrainCo and Adelaide Next – were interested in the project initially.
But Keolis Downer, who is now front runner for the contract, and TrainCo, attempted to pull out of the race before being offered a $1 million ‘loser fee’.
Whistleblowers have told The Advertiser to justify the taxpayer funded payment, potential operators were told it would offer up to $1 million for costs of unsuccessful bidders due to COVID restrictions making it difficult for aspirants to get to Adelaide to inspect the train assets.
The State Opposition, which has also been made aware of the alleged payments, is calling on the State Government for answers.
The contract is for eight years, with a possible extension of four more years, worth an estimated $1 billion.
New operators are expected to start in January 2021 – suggesting an announcement is just weeks away to allow a smooth transition.
But the Department of Transport and Infrastructure – which The Advertiser revealed during the week was pulling together a new “public affairs” unit to “communicate clearly and ensure we keep our customers well informed at all times” – says details of the contract are commercial in confidence.
This article first appeared on www.adelaidenow.com.au
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