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New locomotive fleet for Tasmania

by Rail Express last modified Dec 15, 2011 10:11 AM
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A significant milestone in the revitalisation of Tasmanian rail has been reached with the awarding of a major $60 million contract to Downer Rail, in partnership with Progress Rail USA, for the supply of seventeen new locomotives to replace TasRail’s ageing motive power fleet.

New locomotive fleet for Tasmania

The contract between Downer and TasRail is for the design, build and delivery 17 new PR22L-type locomotives, modified to suit the Tasmanian rail network. The first of the new narrow-gauge locomotives are expected to start arriving by mid 2013, with completion of the order within 18 months.

Confirming the contract signing, TasRail Chief Executive Officer Damien White said it heralded a bright new future for rail in the State.

“Securing a contemporary and standardised locomotive fleet will substantially improve the safety, reliability, efficiency and capacity of rail freight services in Tasmania.”

“Most importantly, it will enable us to provide a level of service equal to a modern day standard which in turn will help to meet long term demand and increase our contestable market share”.

These will be the first new locomotives built for the Tasmanian rail network since 1973. The existing locomotive fleet is considered to be well beyond its useful operating life, representing a significant and escalating cost burden on the TasRail. Although some units have been rebuilt or upgraded, the fleet today consists largely of locomotives purchased second-hand from Queensland Rail over the last 25 years.

The awarding of the contract to Downer Rail and its partner Progress Rail comes at the end of an extensive and comprehensive commercial tender process that had attracted worldwide interest. Mr White revealed that TasRail was able to achieve a very competitive price in the current market, but that price was not the only consideration.

“Our very experienced project team developed a model for assessing tender bids on a whole of life cost analysis that considered a range of factors including (but not limited to) maintenance costs, reliability, fuel costs and efficiencies, emission performance, proven record and longevity of design, warranty and service support were also assessed”, he said.

The total value of the locomotive project is in excess of A$60 million.

A deciding factor in awarding the contract to the Downer Rail/Progress Rail partnership was its proven haulage capability across curve and gradients unique to the TasRail network.

In recent months, TasRail has announced a major contact for the supply of up to 150,000 concrete sleepers and it is expected to go to the market early in 2012 for the supply of a new wagon fleet.

The investment in Tasmania’s Rail Recovery has been made possible with funding support from the Tasmanian and Australian Governments. The State has committed a total of $137 million over seven years for the replacement of rolling stock fleet, a modern train control system and other vital equipment replacements and upgrades.

Under a Memorandum of Understanding between the State and Australian Governments, the network will receive a total of $210 million to 2013/14 for the refurbishment and/or replacement of critical track and infrastructure. 

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