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The first of Melbourne's new $5.2 billion fleet of next-generation trains is more than six months behind schedule as teething problems plague the massive public-private project.
In 2016 the government signed a contract with a consortium of local firms and international manufacturers to make the shells of the trains in China and then assemble the vehicles in Victoria.
Carriages next to North Williamstown railway station, from the $5.2 billion train order made by the Andrews government. They have been shipped from China and are awaiting assemblage.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
The consortium will get payments averaging $150 million a year until 2053, in return for the supply and maintenance of 65 new trains over three and a half decades.
The consortium, led by public-private partnership specialist Plenary, will see train car bodies manufactured by China’s CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, one of the world’s biggest train manufacturers, and assembled by engineering and services company Downer EDI.
The consortium, Evolution Rail, was contracted in November 2016 to put the first of the high-capacity trains into service on Melbourne’s rail network by March 29.
But that first train is still a month off even being tested for the first time on Melbourne’s railways. It must complete 10,000 kilometres of fault-free running before it can carry passengers.
Carriages manufactured in China ready to be assembled in Downer's Newport rail yards.CREDIT:JOE ARMAO
Problems identified during assembly of the first train have included issues with its traction motor, electrics, and undercarriage. The train has only been tested so far on a purpose-built facility in Pakenham East.
In all, five sets of trains have now been assembled and a sixth was being put together in yards next to North Williamstown railway station this week.
This article first appeared on www.theage.com.au
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