$2.8 billion rail replacement to finally give all Sydney trains air-con … by 2024

Image: One of many off-the-shelf choices the NSW government is considering for its new fleet of air-conditioned trains.

New South Wales Premier Mike Baird has revealed the state government will sink $2.8 billion on a “next-generation” fleet of intercity trains that will make all state trains air-conditioned for the first time.

After decades of getting to work literally in a lather, the major investment will finally relieve the discomfort faced by multitudes of peak hour commuters stuck in so-called ‘sweat boxes’ that have long acted as a deterrent to using public transport.

Although the NSW government has been introducing air-conditioned trains to the Sydney regional network since 1981, commuters have still faced a seemingly random schedule of different legacy carriage sets that may or may not be air-conditioned, making the prospect of turning up to work dry a game of roulette.

After years of complaints, the NSW government wants to eliminate that commuter frustration once and for all by buying 65 new “state-of-the-art” intercity trains for its NSW TrainLink service – including about 520 brand new carriages that will run passengers between Sydney and the Central Coast, Newcastle, the Blue Mountains and the Illawarra.

But to make sure the entire NSW rail network is equipped with climate controlled trains, the present ‘Oscar’ intercity fleet that is now operating on outer metropolitan runs will be reallocated to Sydney suburban services.

The investment is the first big buy from the NSW government since the former Labor government introduced the much anticipated Warratah trains, which entered service in July 2011.

Now the government will embark on a major procurement process that will begin by working with the “world’s leading train manufacturers” to identify the best train for the long journeys taken by intercity customers.

Instead of designing new trains from scratch, the government wants to select a train that is already available to the market to ensure it’s in service within four to five years.

Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian said this procurement process will begin this month, with industry briefings to take place in coming weeks.

“Previously, NSW has developed unique and often costly train fleets from scratch, which has taken as long as seven years from start to delivery,” Ms Berejiklian said.

She said the government is looking to buy off-the-shelf trains with proven technology and then configuring them to meet customers’ needs, “meaning we can ensure the best value, best possible service and also have these new trains on track faster”.

The rail industry has applauded the government’s announcement as Australasian Railway Association (ARA) chief executive officer Bryan Nye said the investment will vastly improve the service offering for Sydney’s intercity travellers.

Mr Nye said new intercity trains are also likely to entice more commuters onto the rail network which will have the added benefit of reducing road congestion and pollution levels in Sydney.

“Many Australians would be unaware that Australian rail manufacturing and maintenance companies provide electric and diesel locomotives, train carriages and wagons, specialist equipment for rail track signalling and electrification systems,” Mr Nye said.

He said Australian rail equipment manufacturers also employ more than 15,000 people and add $1.6 billion to Australia’s GDP annually.

The government expects the first new train will be in passenger service by 2019 and the new fleet will be progressively rolled out through to 2024.

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3 thoughts on “$2.8 billion rail replacement to finally give all Sydney trains air-con … by 2024

  1. It is disappointing that the NSW Transport Minister after 3 years in the job still no knowledge of the greater Sydney metropolitan rail service.

    All of the Interurban trains in on Sydney’s Cityrail network are currently air conditioned and have been for at least 25.years.

    The ‘Oscar’ trains are the most recent ‘big buy’ of trains in NSW. The last batch of 99 Oscars were ordered in 2010 and came into service in 2012 bringing the total number of ‘state of the art’ climate controlled air conditioned Oscar carriages in service to 220.

    The Sydney network is unique in that it is the only one in the world (from what I can determine) that runs double deck trains on 1500v DC power.
    The 25Kva AC ‘off the shelf’ train pictured, like most other double deck electric trains in use throughout the world, is not compatible with Sydney’s 1500v D system.

    Looks like we are heading for another stuff-up like the North West Rail Line (tunnels are being bored 40cm too narrow for the double deck trains).

  2. Barry,

    The SNCF train shown is dual voltage, 1500v dc as we’ll as 25 kv ac. So no problem there.

    Th Minister did not state that there were non air conditioned intercity trains running. He stated that transferring OSCARs from intercity to suburban routes would enable the remaining currency non air conditioned suburban sets to be replaced.


  3. Barry

    The Minister did not say that any inter-city trains were not air-conditioned. When the new trains arrive the OSCARS will be transferred to suburban services (much to the delight of inter-city passengers who do not like them). In suburban service the OSCARS will replace the remaining non-airconditioned SUBURBAN stock.

    The French train pictured is dual volt, 25Kve AC and 1500v DC. Yes double deck electric trains do run on 1500v DC lines in France.


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