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The first of 17 new trains will hit the tracks in Sydney this week — and NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance has made the bold claim that they “don’t break down”.
The new batch of Waratah Series 2 trains, which were built in China, will be complete by the end of the year and rolled out across the suburban network by the end of the second quarter next year.
“We had people travelling in from places like Campbelltown on un-airconditioned trains,” Mr Constance said.
“These trains are very comfortable, they don’t break down and they’re incredibly reliable. They are the workhorse of Sydney trains.”
There are now six trains built and ready to go, plus another 11 that will be delivered later this year. They will join 41 new Waratah trains, Mr Constance said, as part of the rollout.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance said the new trains would be reliable. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia
Mr Constance was asked about the decision to outsource the new batch to Chinese manufacturers but said it was a decision based on speed and cost.
“We just don’t have the manufacturing plants,” he said.
“The biggest imposition is things like energy costs and labour costs.”
The Transport Minister also explained no Australian manufacturers had put their hand up to build the new inner-city fleet and it cost about 25 per cent less to get the job done internationally.
“The additional costs and the additional time frames make it difficult,” Mr Constance said.
“We had seen such enormous growth we had to take quick action to get trains on the tracks in this city.”
The new trains will operate on the T2 inner west and Leppington, T3 Bankstown and T8 Airport and South lines, while the next stages of the program will focus on delivering improvements to the T4 Illawarra, T8 Airport and the south coast lines.
All 17 new trains should be in operation by the end of the second quarter next year. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia
When the announcement was made in 2018, Mr Constance said investment in trains was needed because of the rapid growth across the rail network.
But passenger numbers have plunged dramatically during the coronavirus crisis with a 55 per cent drop in the number of people using the system daily.
Mr Constance said transport authorities had no plans to reduce services given the need to meet social distancing requirements on-board.
In fact, 3300 additional services have been added to the city’s transport network since the pandemic began.
“There have been a couple of hundred additional train services on a weekly basis because we want people to space out,” he said.
“We know as soon as there’s a potential vaccine life will return to normal in terms of our transport network, and the great thing is that we will be ready to go.”
The new fleet was outsourced to Chinese manufacturers. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia
Green social-distancing markers will be placed on the train overnight before it begins taking passengers on Thursday.
Mr Constance also stood firm on the Berejiklian Government’s stance on not mandating masks on public transport despite calls from the Opposition.
According to the minister, between 20 and 60 per cent of commuters – including roughly half at Central Station – are wearing a mask while travelling across the network, but he wants to improve that figure.
“I want to see 100 per cent,” Mr Constance said.
“We just need everybody to put them on.”
Sydney Trains acting chief executive Suzanne Holden said the new fleet would feature airconditioning with advanced temperature control, high-definition customer information screens, internal and external CCTV as well as priority seating, wheelchair spaces and hearing aid loops.
The delivery is part of the State Government’s $4.3 billion More Trains More Services program.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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