Next generation of Melbourne's train fleet unveiled

This morning at a media conference in the historic Newport Workshops, the Premier, Minister for Public Transport and Minister for Industry and Employment announced the Evolution Rail consortium was the successful bidder for the contract to supply the next generation of Melbourne's train fleet: High-Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT).

Keen to emphasise the employment opportunities, 15% of the expected 1,100 jobs created through the awarding of this contract will be for apprenticeships, trainees and cadets and transitioning automotive workers.

We’re guaranteeing more local work than ever with 60 per cent local content, as well as ensuring the inclusion of 15 per cent Victorian apprentices, trainees and cadets, and a partnership with Toyota to help transition workers out of the auto industry.

Wade Noonan, Minister for Industry and Employment

The Evolution Rail consortium comprises Downer Rail (ASX: Downer EDI Limited), CRRC and Plenary. Furthermore, the China Railway Rolling Stock Corporation (CRRC) will set up an Australian regional headquarters and establish "Australia's only bogie manufacturer" in Melbourne, the Victorian Government media release states.

Downer Rail has previously worked with a CRRC subsidiary - Changchun Railway Vehicles - to create the most recent fleet of trains operating on Sydney's rail network, the A Sets, better known as the Waratah fleet.

The historic Newport workshops will see a $16 million upgrade to allow manufacturing to occur on-site.

HCMT interior. Screen capture from media release video

As foreshadowed when the tender was announced, a new dedicated maintenance facility will be built in Pakenham East - as well as a light service facility in Calder Park - and the new fleet will be dedicated to the Pakenham/Cranbourne lines, with the Sunbury line being added to the list once the Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel project connects all three lines.

The first tranche of new trains is set to begin testing in 2018 and they will begin roaming the mainline in 2019 after the Caulfield-Dandenong level crossing removal project has been completed. The entire fleet order of 65 new trains will be operating once the new Melbourne Metro Rail tunnel is complete in 2026.

Victorian Government's message of public transport and manufacturing jobs continues unabated

These new high capacity trains will do the heavy lifting on the Cranbourne-Pakenham lines, ahead of the opening of the Metro Tunnel, enabling more passengers to travel during the busiest parts of the day.

Jacinta Allan, Minister for Public Transport

The new trains will be formed in seven car consists and passengers will be free to move to any part of the train once aboard. The longer train and internal configuration will purportedly enable 20% more space in each train compared to trains which currently operate on the Melbourne network.

In an ASX media release before market open at 10am on Monday, Downer EDI Limited stated:

The Evolution Rail consortium will deliver the HCMT project which includes

  • Design, manufacture and commissioning of 65 HCMTs for use on the Cranbourne, Pakenham and Sunbury lines in Melbourne;
  • Design and build of two training simulators;
  • Design, construction and commissioning of a train maintenance facility and stabling yards at Pakenham East;
  • Design, construction and commissioning of a light service facility at Calder Park; and
  • Maintenance of the rolling stock fleet for 30 years and also of the train maintenance facility, the light service facility and the simulators.

Downer's scope of work includes:

  • Project management services for the HCMT construction;
  • Design, construction and commissioning of the train maintenance facility, stabling yards and light service facility; and
  • Maintenance and overhaul of the HCMT fleet, train maintenance facility, light service facility and simulators for 30 years
Downer EDI Limited ASX media release
HCMT interior. Screen capture from media release video

The Premier's media centre now has a section dedicated to rail:


George D's picture

This is excellent news - and 2018 isn't far away for the first units. 65 larger units is a huge addition to the existing fleet of 407, so this is a major capacity boost. In a sense it doesn't matter which line they're on, but having them on the Cranbourne/Pakenham - Sunbury MRR will complement everything else new about it.

At the same time, it's a pity there's no mention of driverless. This is a mature technology with wide adoption and will be even more so by the time this rollout is complete. I hope that they're able to retrofit in future.

Mark's picture

More left-leaning bias as per usual on UM.

James Adams's picture

Mark, do you ever have something meaningful to contribute or are you just here to whinge? All I see in this news article is just a collection of facts and figures collated from the various media releases, reports and fact sheets released today. No sign of opinion.

Thanks for the interesting details UM. I've been trying to find some of the finer points since the announcement, such as train lengths, but the info seems to be spread all over the place.

The trains look very similar to the X'Trapolis. Speaking of which, now that Alstom has been unsuccessful in their bid, I wonder if they'll shut up shop in Ballarat like they've been claiming for a while.

Alastair Taylor's picture

George D: There's currently an active tender for the new signalling system.

Daniel Bowen did a run-down of the HCMT tender last year (and updated it earlier this year):

The tender documents asked for proposals which catered for future automatic train operations.

I suppose we'll all have a clearer picture when the winning bid for the signalling system is announced and Downer/CRRC release the tech specs for the trains.

Alastair Taylor's picture

James: the next big contract for rolling stock is the next generation of regional trains. No doubt Alstom will bid on that and as well, the tram fleet will probably need another refresh in ten years.

Lots of moving parts but also plenty of new work over the next decade (or two!).

Llib's picture

In response to left wing bias if I am allowed to comment

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