The 12km, 21-station north-south line will run from Circular Quay to Sydney Central station, and the Moore Park sport and entertainment complex, where the line will divide to serve Prince of Wales Hospital at Randwick and the University of NSW in Kingsford.

The main contract is being tendered as a PPP which includes design, construction, operation, and maintenance of the system, as well as operation and maintenance of the Inner West Light Rail line, which is currently being extended to Dulwich Hill. A separate contract will be issued for preliminary works.

Invitations for expressions of interest will be published on the NSW tenders website on October 21, and subject to planning approval, the state government expects to award both contracts in mid to late 2014. Construction is expected to take five-to-six years to complete.

The journey time between Circular Quay and Central will be 15 minutes, with trams operating at intervals of 2-3 minutes during peak periods.

The project has been allocated $A 423m in the 2013-14 NSW state budget.