7 Oct 2011

Spanish firm wins contract for Auckland trains

10:19 am on 7 October 2011

A Spanish firm has won New Zealand's biggest-ever order of commuter trains for delivery to Auckland in two years' time.

The $500 million contract for electric trains will be the final step in overhauling Auckland's suburban rail network which was almost defunct 20 years ago.

Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF) will build 57 three-car electric units and maintain them in a purpose-built workshop to be constructed in South Auckland.

Auckland mayor Len Brown hailed the signing of a contract on Thursday, saying the trains are the next step in giving the city a 21st century rail network.

Mr Brown says as well as increasing capacity on the network, the electric trains will cut travel times.

He says the trains are compatible with plans for an underground rail link through Auckland's downtown area, which he wants to be built within a decade.

Auckland at present has a mix of diesel-powered units and trains, all of which were bought second-hand.

Auckland Transport will own the fleet, bought with a loan from the Government, as well as a $90 million grant.

Dunedin rail workshop could benefit

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union hopes Dunedin's Hillside Workshop will benefit from the contract.

The union says CAF was their preferred contractor and the Spanish company has been in contact with the union about local capability.

However, the union's secretary in Dunedin, Stu Johnstone, told Radio New Zealand's Checkpoint programme nothing is certain.

"We're hoping for Dunedin that there might be some componentry work which could be done and then railed up to Auckland to put the final units together. But there's a lot of discussions to be had before we know anything definite like that."

Mr Johnstone says CAF has a track record of working with local firms where it wins contracts.