Auckland Transport has announced that it is suspending its order of battery-powered trains, and will instead replace them with 15 new electric trains.
The operator had announced it September its decision to purchase 17 of the battery-powered Independently-Powered Electric Multiple Units (IPEMU) train models for $207, in response to the delays in the network electrification between Papakura and Pukekohe.
However, due to a decision to bring forward electrification of the Papakura-Pukekohe line, that plan has now been suspended by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA).
Auckland Transport yesterday announced that it has instead signed a contract with the Spanish supplier Spain by Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF), which will now build 15 three-car electric trains and provide vehicle maintenance for an 8-year term.
CAF was the company responsible for building the 57 three-car electric units which currently service the Auckland network, which were commissioned in 2014 and have completed over 11 million kilometres in total mileage.
“We signed out first contract with Auckland Transport in 2011, we are proud of the on-going relationship and look forward to providing Aucklanders with 15 more great trains,” CAF area director Inaki Mendizabal said.
Auckland Transport’s chairman, Dr Lester Levy, said that the electric trains were required to meet the rise in public demand along the city’s rail network, which has seen a 16 per cent increase in passengers over the past year.
“We need to put on bigger trains to meet the demand and we need to be ready for when the tracks are electrified between Papakura and Pukekohe,” Levy said.
According to Auckland Transport chief executive David Warburton, the extra trains will allow more frequent services to run.
“With 15 more trains we will be able to operate six-car trains on most services on the Southern, Eastern and Western Lines. This will give passengers the confidence that they will have a comfortable trip and they won’t have to worry about not getting a seat,” Warburton said.
“We need to plan well in advance, we need to make sure that as more and more Aucklanders embrace trains, we have the infrastructure to give them the service they have become used to.”
NZTA will contribute $65.2 million for the train order, with Auckland Council providing $65.2 million.
According to CAF, the 15 new trains will be similar to the models currently operating in Auckland, and will consist of three cars, two cabbed end motor cars and one intermediate trailer car, with a total capacity for 380 passengers. They will also feature a lower floor in the intermediate carriage to allow better access for those with reduced mobility and wheelchair users.
The contract also includes an extension option that will leave open the possibility for battery package installation on these trains if necessary.
Auckland Transport expects the first new trains to be up and running on the network in 2019.