Keolis Downer has secured a A$2.14bn ($1.57bn) contract to operate the Adelaide Metropolitan Passenger Rail Network in South Australia.

The company was selected through a competitive tender process to operate the suburban network for eight years from next January.

As agreed, Keolis Downer will focus on improving passenger services, modernising the system, and expanding the use of public transport.

It will include increasing the frequency of services following the electrification of the Gawler rail line and providing more than 2,200 new services annually on the new Flinders Line, which is set to open later this year.

Keolis Downer CEO David Franks said: “Under this new contract with Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT) in South Australia, there will be a strong focus on customer service, for example by providing more channels to access real-time information.

“Customer service staff will receive new tools to better engage with customers, share real-time information, gather feedback and advise passengers of any disruptions and alternative options when needed.”

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South Australian Minister for Infrastructure and Transport Corey Wingard said: “It’s important to note the state government still owns all the rail assets including tracks, trains and stations and will continue to have control of fare price, revenue and standards for service levels.”

Established in 2009, Keolis Downer is a joint venture (JV) between French transport operator Keolis and Australian firm Downer.

The JV operates in Australia as a public transport operator and integrator.

It operates the Melbourne tram network, the light rail network on the Gold Coast and Newcastle, as well as more than 1,000 buses across Australian states.