Passenger Rail, Rolling stock & Rail Vehicle Design

$1.6 billion for WA-based train build

The McGowan Government wants 246 new railcars at least 50%-built in Western Australia over the next 10 years, with a pre-qualification tender released this week.

A total of 246 “C-series” railcars are to be built over 10 years under the newly-announced deal.

102 new railcars (i.e. 17 six-carriage sets) will be for the added capacity of the Metronet projects, and 144 railcars (i.e. 24 six-carriage sets) will replace the existing A-series trains, the Transperth network’s first electric railcars.

The government’s State Budget last year provided $508 million for the construction of the Metronet railcars; however, due to consideration of the aging of the A-series trains (with many approaching the end of their 30-year operational lifespan), the project has now been expanded to a total of $1.6 billion, with additional funding for their replacement.

The McGowan government has presented the project as a boost for local manufacturing: the contract will require that the supplier commit to manufacture or assemble 50% of the railcars in Western Australia, while a part of the project budget will go toward funding the construction of a local railcar assembly facility and associated infrastructure.

“These will be our Metronet trains, so it makes sense that they are our local jobs,” WA’s premier Mark McGowan said. “Not only will Metronet deliver thousands of new constructions jobs, but the increased demand for new railcars will create a pipeline of work to boost our local manufacturing industry and maximise WA jobs.

“My government’s number one priority is WA jobs and with a long-term plan to boost local manufacturing, it makes sense that we cement this strategy in place to build these extra railcars in WA.”

China’s CRRC Corporation, French-based Alstom, and a joint-venture of Bombardier and EDI Downer – all of whom attended the government’s procurement project briefing last October – are among those expected to compete for the railcar contract.

The companies that apply for the contract will be placed on a short-listed to progress to an interactive tendering process. The supplier is expected to be chosen in early 2019.

“These trains will travel up to 280,000km a year for 35 years, so we need to get it right,” state transport minister Rita Saffioti said.

“This is a great opportunity to deliver the next generation of trains that can provide more capacity, and faster transfers, and tap into our local workforce to deliver WA projects with local skills.”

Delivery of the first 17 train sets will reportedly be due sometime in 2021, with the further 24 sets expected between 2023 and 2026.