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Newly rebuilt SX trains big boost for commuters

Newly rebuilt SX trains big boost for regional commuters

Two newly rebuilt SX trains will provide a significant boost to rail capacity. They come into service on July 7 – weather permitting final track-joining work.

Hosting the official SX launch celebrations, Councillor Catherine Harland, Chair of the Auckland Regional Council Passenger Transport Committee, said the ARC had acquired the trains because of the long expected increase in demand for rail services accompanying the central railway station move back to downtown.

“Regional ratepayers have been crying out for more capacity,” she said, “and I’m sure they will be delighted with what we’ve delivered.”

The SXs each has a capacity of around 320 passengers with seating for 158, plus two wheelchairs. They will enable two additional services from Papakura in the morning peak and two additional services in the afternoon from Newmarket. They join a growing fleet of refurbished ADL trains.

Cr Harland said that the ARC was committed to expanding the public transport network as a way of providing people with an alternative to sitting in road congestion. “We have a plan to get the region moving again, and the introduction of the SX trains is a tangible result of that planning.”

Chair of the Newmarket Business Association Peter Corner said the SX trains were part of a rail renaissance that would benefit not just business in Newmarket, but business throughout the region.

“These trains herald progress towards public transport that will accelerate Auckland’s growth as a world-class city,” he said. “They will also give us all lifestyle choices we don’t have now.”

Chris Orr, Project Development Manager for the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind and advisor on train and platform design for sight-impaired people, says the SXs are an important step forward to creating a flexible public transport system that will markedly improve people’s mobility around the region.

“Having better trains running more frequently with good onboard and platform passenger information systems is obviously going to be a boon for anyone who can’t conveniently use cars,” he says. “And that’s not just people with physical disabilities. Gridlock has effectively disabled car commuters too. Trains are an important component enabling us all to have a choice in how we get around.”

Guests were invited to inspect the carriages after a giant red ribbon was cut by Christine Perrins’ eight-year-old daughter Sophie. Ms Perrins was Rail Project Manager for the ARC until the end of last year and helped acquire the SX trains for the Auckland rail network.

Cr Harland thanked the many parties involved in the project, in particular, Lloyd Major (Tranz Rail) and Bill Guest (Land Transport Safety Authority) for supporting the introduction of the trains to Auckland; Neil Buchanan and Mike McKeon and the Tranz Rail staff at Dunedin’s Hillside Workshop for making it all happen on time and on budget; Zig Zag Railway and Macquarie Bank for the leasing arrangements; and Barnacle Design and Burgess Treep for the ADL interior design concepts used in the refurbishment.

Background Information On The Auckland Region’s Newly Rebuilt Sx Passenger Trains

Two newly rebuilt SX trains are scheduled to begin operation on the Auckland commuter rail network on July 7 – weather permitting the track-joining work.

Each consists of a diesel (DBR) locomotive and three SX passenger carriages and will provide increased capacity on a circular route between Auckland City and Papakura. They will run in opposite directions on the twin-track circular route around the Eastern-Waterfront and Isthmus-Newmarket lines.

Instead of stopping at the new Britomart station, it will offer a complementary city service which stops at the new Strand station, formerly Platform Four at the old Auckland railway station. This will enable two additional services from Papakura in the morning peak and two additional services in the afternoon from Newmarket.

Each train has a capacity of around 320 passengers with seating for 158 people plus two wheelchair berths. The carriage that contains the generator which powers lighting, heating and air-conditioning throughout the train, has seating for 38. The middle carriage has seating for 58 plus two wheelchairs, and the third has seating for 62. The cost of refurbishing the carriages and locomotives was $1.8 million.

Tranz Rail’s Hillside Engineering Workshops carried out the refurbishment using designs developed by Tranz Rail’s Professional Services Group. Up to 35 staff members worked on the 14-week project, clocking a total of 13,500 hours.

The six passenger carriages have been comprehensively overhauled and refurbished. They are more comfortable, have passenger-friendly interiors and additional safety features.

The interiors were refitted in a style to match the refurbished ADL units. Features include:

new fibreglass carriage linings and weather shields around the doors;

double doors with automatic opening and closing, and door controls standardised with other Auckland rail network equipment;

retractable steps to reduce the gap between the train and make it easier for passengers to get on and off;

new rubber mounted windows for better insulation and reduced vibration;

new lighting, air conditioning and heating systems.

New floor coverings including carpet have been laid and the seats in each have been upgraded and covered with wool moquette fabric.

The bogies (wheel sets) have been upgraded and inspected and the wheels adjusted to match New Zealand standards. New park-brake and emergency -brake systems have been installed and tested. The walkways between cars have been replaced with the New Zealand standard and a concertina cover provided.

The locomotives are the smallest class of mainline locomotive and had previously been used for industrial shunting in New Zealand. For passenger services, the locomotives have been upgraded from 950 horsepower to 1100 horsepower. They have been repainted in the silver and blue livery of the ARC’s MAXX branding. The cab interior has been upgraded and a new driver’s seat fitted. Ditch lights to the exterior are an additional safety feature.

The SX carriages were built in the 1960s for Queensland Rail and used most recently on the Zig-Zag tourist railway in the Blue Mountains, New South Wales.

The SX trains are expected to be in service until the Auckland rail network is electrified over the next decade, and new electric-powered trains are acquired.

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