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Greater Wellington buys new electric trains

Greater Wellington buys new electric commuter trains


Greater Wellington Regional Council today signed an agreement to purchase 70 new electric commuter trains (35 two-car units) with options to buy a further 13 two-car units at later dates, within the budget of $210 million. The deal was signed with Rotem Mitsui, a Korean/Japanese consortium.

Council Chair Fran Wilde said that today's official signing brought to an end several months of negotiations and marked an important next step for modernising the region's commuter rail network.

"This agreement is an extraordinarily good deal for the region's commuters and ratepayers," Fran Wilde said.

"We have secured modern, reliable world-class commuter trains that will run on all parts of the region's electrified rail network, once the necessary extensions and modifications to signals, platforms and tunnels are made. Track upgrades are scheduled to coincide with the arrival of the new trains from 2010.

"Together with other developments outlined in the Regional Land Transport Strategy, these new trains will allow us to meet future passenger transport needs affordably and sustainably.

"I would like to acknowledge Rotem and Mitsui for their part in developing this solution. We look forward to working with them as the new trains are delivered and installed.

"Thanks are also due to the New Zealand Government which, through Land Transport New Zealand, is funding 90% of the cost of these trains as well as a significant part of other rail upgrade projects, such as double-tracking and electrification to Waikanae.

"The next few years will see significant developments for the region's commuters as major new initiatives progressively come on stream. Enhancing public transport systems and services is a major part of Greater Wellington's commitment to leading a sustainable region. The Regional Council will continue to be at the forefront of these and other important changes," Fran Wilde said.

STATEMENT ENDS

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS:

Q1: Why does the Greater Wellington Region need new trains?

A: Modern new trains are essential to the Wellington region to sustain a reliable and efficient commuter rail system today, and to meet the transport challenges of tomorrow. The increased usage and demands of modern commuters will only be sustained if services are comfortable, fast, frequent and reliable. Sustaining any of these attributes, if any, is becoming increasingly difficult and inefficient utilising an ageing train fleet on an ageing network.

Wellington's current fleet of electric trains will be between 70 and 28-years old when the new trains enter service. The new trains will provide a modern and comfortable travelling experience and allow the retirement of the trains close to 70-years old. The trains nearing their 30s will then be given a refurbishment to extend their life and lift the customer experience closer to the standard of the modern trains.

Q2: What is the budget for the new trains and how many are we buying?

A: The total budget for the purchase of the new trains is $210 million. Within this budget we are ordering 70 cars configured as 35 two-car units, and holding options for a further 26 cars (13 two-car units).

Q3: How much of all this is being funded by the ratepayer?

A: The works are part of a public transport package that was consulted on in the Council's LTCCP. Central Government has shown very clear support of these initiatives and is funding 90% of the costs through Land Transport NZ. The remaining 10% is loan funded by Greater Wellington.

Q4: What are the implications on the ageing infrastructure of introducing modern electric trains?

A: The 2004 Business Case for the procurement of a fleet of new trains included a whole system upgrade of the ageing Wellington network. This includes both upgrades and replacement of various network structures, signalling and power supply systems, and the implementation of new initiatives such as integrated ticketing, real time information and greater levels of service accessibility.

This suite of rail infrastructure improvements will be implemented over time maximising the efficiency and performance of modern trains and increasing the accessibility and convenience of rail services. Initially the more noticeable projects will include modifications to Johnsonville branch-line tunnels, and platforms across the region, and the extension of double tracking and electrification to Waikanae. Q5: What is the impact on Wellington and New Zealand businesses?

A: Rotem/Mitsui will work very closely with Toll NZ, ONTRACK and local rail consultants to prepare the network for delivery, testing, and commissioning of the new trains. These processes, in addition to the ongoing train maintenance at the Wellington maintenance depot, will transfer a wealth of updated knowledge, skills and technologies to the local and national rail and heavy manufacturing industries.

Q6: What process did Greater Wellington Regional Council go through before signing the contract for the new trains?

A: The procurement process started in 2004 with the approval of a business case by Land Transport NZ. This allowed GW to prepare an overall procurement methodology and detailed procurement procedure for an international tendering process.

The first step involved the competitive procurement of an independent rolling stock technical advisor (Halcrow Group Limited) to assist GW in the preparation of tender documents for new trains. Audit NZ was appointed as the probity auditor to ensure that the strict procedures and protocols were adhered too, and that the tendering and evaluation process was transparent and equitable to all parties. In September 2006 there was a call for Expressions of Interest (EOI), to which 10 responses from around the world (including NZ) were received.

The EOI responses were evaluated by separate technical (Halcrow, Toll NZ and GW) and commercial (DLA Phillips Fox, PricewaterhouseCoopers and GW) teams resulting in a shortlist of three manufacturers (Rotem/Mitsui, Bombardier, and CAF).

In January 2007 a detailed Request for Tender (RFT) document was then sent to the short-listed manufacturers. This included various draft contracts. The evaluation teams were re-formed and again technical and commercial responses were evaluated separately before reaching a decision on the preferred tenderer with whom to begin contract negotiations. The integrity of the tender and evaluation process was scrutinised and endorsed throughout by Audit NZ.

Accordingly the Regional Council and Greater Wellington Rail Limited (a Council controlled holding company established to own the regions train assets) have considered and approved each step in the process and endorsed the signing of a contract with Rotem/Mitsui for the supply of new electric commuter trains.

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS END:

Note for editors: Animated footage of the new electric trains is available on request (1 minute running time, 40MB MP3 format)

ENDS

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