The firm which runs Metrolink could be axed from the job next year – with another contractor poised to take over, the Manchester Evening News can reveal.

Global giant RATP Dev Ltd has been operating the Manchester tram network since May 2007, when a 10-year contract was signed with what is now Transport for Greater Manchester.

The M.E.N told in 2015 four companies had been shortlisted for a new seven-year contract to start next July.

These were RATP Dev as well as KeolisAmey, National Express and Transdev.

However, in a public Companies House report published on Friday, RATP Dev Ltd revealed they were NOT the ‘preferred bidder’ in the process.

The document also outlines a pre-tax loss of £3.6m up to December 2015, and plans for its Metrolink branch to be ‘wound up’ with staff transferred to a new operation if the contract ends.

It is not yet known if jobs are at risk.

RATP Dev Ltd is one of four companies shortlisted to run the Metrolink network – but it has revealed that it is NOT the ‘preferred bidder’ (Photo: Dominic Salter)

Stephen Morris, general secretary of the Workers of England Union, which represents some RATP Dev workers, said he was shocked that a document such as this had been made public before staff had been made aware.

He added: “As a trade union official, we want to ensure that employees are informed. They have been on tenterhooks the last few months.

“They could see that RATP Dev offcials had been visiting from the Paris head office and they have been concerned about their jobs. We don’t yet know if jobs are at risk.”

The document is a strategic report up to December 2015.

It reads: “The company has submitted a tender and at the current time the company is assessing its options in response to information received from TfGM that it is not the preferred bidder.”

Stephen Morris

It refers to a pre-tax loss of £3.6m up to December 2015 due to the ‘maintenance element’ of the contract, a likely reference to Metrolink’s major expansion work.

The M.E.N told just last month that RATP Dev UK bosses have their sights set on the city’s buses if they are franchised under a Manchester mayor.

Their parent company is among the world’s five biggest transport firms, and already runs 12 per cent of London’s 8,600 buses for TFL, as well as 4,500 buses in Paris.

A TfGM spokeswoman confirmed KeolisAmey, National Express, Transdev and RATP Dev had successfully pre-qualified to bid to operate and maintain Metrolink from July 2017.

She added: “In line with the schedule set out last year, the process of selecting the preferred bidder is nearing completion – but no formal decision has yet been made. An official announcement will be made in due course. We will not be commenting further at this time.”

The new contract will begin in Metrolink’s silver jubilee year with the Second City Crossing in place – the final piece of a expansion that has trebled the size of the original tram network. The Trafford line was also given the government green light this month.

An RATP Dev Ltd spokesman said: “We can’t comment at this stage for legal reasons.”