ACTN comprises Alstom, Compagnie Internationale de Maintenance (CIM), and the NGE Group including its TSO track subsidiary. The consortium will complete the construction of the new line, lay the track, electrify it using Alstom catenary-free APS system, and build a workshop and yard.

This is the second time that Alstom has been involved in the project, as it was the leader of the GME Cita consortium including CIM, Ineo, and TSO, which was awarded a $US 142.6m contract in June 2013 to supply an integrated light rail system. Alstom completed the first of 14 33m-long Citadis LRVs for Cuenca in 2015.

However, the project came to a halt when the contract with the Cuatro Ríos de Cuenca Consortium (CCRC), which was also involved in the project, was terminated unilaterally by the Mayor’s Office of Cuenca for non-compliance. “We are aware that the errors with which the project started led to a series of difficulties and paralysis that led to the unilateral termination of the contract,” mayor Mr Marcelo Cabrera said on September 18.

The mayor said that the new contract will “correct the biggest mistake the project had since the beginning, which was the division of activities between two contractors, which required coordination between the CCRC Consortium and Cita.”

The coordinator of municipal companies, Mr Santiago López, says that to make the selection process for a new contractor transparent and to guarantee the participation of a company qualified for this type of work, a call for expressions of interest was made.

Out of 10 companies which expressed an interest, only the ACTN consortium and China Railway No 9 submitted bids. ACTN’s original bid was for $US 60m while the Chinese company bid $US 33m. The first review of the offers was presented on August 14 with revised bids of $US 49m for ACTN and $US 41m for China Railway No 9. On September 8, after a second review of the offers, ACTN submitted a revised final bid of $US 43.9m and China Railway No 9 $US 40.5m.

The mayor of Cuenca says that the process was thorough and resulted in a reduction of appropriately $US 16m from the initial proposal by the ACTN consortium.