Auckland Council’s Finance and Performance Committee today (26 July) agreed in principle to the purchase of 17 new electric trains for a combined total of up to $207 million, with an initial payment of up to $25 million to be made in 2017/18.
It comes as a result of increased patronage on the rail network and the requirement to increase its peak capacity, which will be reached by 2019 when the new trains would come into operation.
The trains have modern batteries which allow them to operate off-grid and recharge when in an electrified section, and will replace existing diesel trains between Papakura and Pukekohe.
Meeting demand for public transport
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff welcomed the decision. “Investing in our public transport system is paying off,” he says.
“Aucklanders have taken to public transport with demand increasing by 17 per cent in the last year and we’re about to achieve a record 20 million passenger trips a year in Auckland.
“Delivering a reliable and efficient public transport network in Auckland is a priority. It will help relieve congestion which is costing our city billions of dollars in lost productivity, lower our city’s emissions profile and make Auckland a great place to live.
“This brings electric trains to Pukekohe over five years earlier than was planned. It will help cater for the 17,800 extra dwellings that the SPV will bring forward."
New trains to have 'lasting impact'
Finance and Performance Committee deputy chair, Councillor Desley Simpson, says that the decision to purchase the trains would have a significant impact on Auckland’s rail network.
“This decision will have a lasting impact on Auckland’s transport issues,” she says.
“Auckland’s growth has been outstripping projections for some time. Today’s decision recognises that by acting to increase the capacity of the rail network as soon as possible, while also ensuring that we continue to operate within our financial limits."
What happens now?
There are several conditions to the agreement of the purchase, including a commitment by NZTA to fund at least 50 per cent of the capital and operational expenditure and the timing of the funding aligning to the cash flow requirement of the procurement and operation.
Auckland Transport will also be required to reprioritise its existing capital budget, providing $50 million towards the purchase, and will make an initial payment of at least five per cent or $10m, but no more than $25m for the order in September 2017.