Queensland taps Bombardier to replace ageing train fleet

Image: Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.
Image: Queensland Department of Transport and Main Roads.

By Paul Hemsley and Julian Bajkowski

The Queensland government has tapped the Bombardier NGR Consortium as the selected tenderer to supply a new fleet of 75 six-car passenger trains in a major overhaul of the state’s public transport system.

The big win for the Bombardier-led bid puts it at the front of the New Generation Rollingstock (NGR) project that aims to provide the new trains, maintain them for 30 years and construct and maintain a new maintenance centre at Wulkuraka.

Once the contract is inked, the Consortium consisting of Bombardier Transportation Australia, John Laing, ITOCHU Corporation and Uberior will be expected to deliver the trains to be in service by December 2018 to meet the growing demand for rail services in south-east Queensland.

Boosting the number of passenger trains in south-east Queensland has become a major priority for the Newman government because of the significant population growth in the area over the last 20 years.

Although the new trains will be built and designed to operate on the new $5 billion Underground Bus and Train project, the government isn’t officially revealing the total price tag of the 75 new trains because the contract with the Consortium has yet to be finalised.

Premier Campbell Newman said the NGR is the largest order of new trains in Queensland and lives up to the government’s election promise to deliver better planning and infrastructure.

Minister for Transport and Main Roads Scott Emerson said the contract will be finalised in the coming months with the testing of the first completed train expected to commence in late 2015.

The rail industry has heartily welcomed Queensland’s rail renewal and expansion project after the federal Coalition government dumped previous rail funding offers after it won office in September.

Australasian Rail Association (ARA) chief executive Bryan Nye said he was “glad to see the Newman government take ownership of this project and ensure its future.”

“It is good to see that state governments like Queensland, even in tough economic times, recognise the importance of public transport investment to ensure our cities are productive, liveable and better connected into the future,” Mr Nye said.

“With Brisbane’s inner city rail network reaching its absolute capacity within the next 5 years, providing an extra river crossing in the CBD will ensure Brisbane’s entire transport network doesn’t grind to a halt.

“This investment in critical infrastructure for Brisbane will see eased congestion in the CBD, more public transport routes into the city and more people and freight going on rail,” Mr Nye said.

The Rail Association chief also applauded combining the rail tunnel with an extension of Brisbane’s busway network because it will potentially alleviate congestion on the Victoria Bridge section of the busway network.

“This project is like hitting two birds with one stone, breaking bottlenecks on two public transport systems at once”, Mr Nye added.

“With the average passenger train removing 525 cars off the road, Brisbane is sure to see an improved quality of its environment, society and economy because of this world leading project,” Mr Nye said.

Early works on the 5.4 kilometre tunnel are expected to start in 2015 and be completed by 2021.

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