Auckland Council in New Zealand is expected to make a decision regarding the purchase of 17 new electric and battery-powered trains.
The new fleet is expected to cost nearly NZ$207m ($154m) and would operate on the sections of Auckland's southern line that are yet to be electrified.
Auckland Mayor Phil Goff said: “New electric and battery powered trains will have major benefits for commuters living south of Papakura in the high growth areas of Drury, Paerata, Pukekohe and potentially Pokeno.”
He also noted that the purchase would eliminate the need for customers to transfer train services at Papakura, enabling faster journey times for passengers.
Additionally, the new rail service will ensure reliable and comfortable trips for commuters and also decrease diesel emissions, while easing congestion levels in busy areas such as the Southern Motorway.
Goff further added: “The units could ultimately be transferred to the Kumeu-Huapai line when the southern line is electrified in 2025.
“The purchase of 17 new units needs to be made now to meet the greater than estimated demand for rail travel.
“Demand has increased by 17% over the last year, and within months will achieve a record 20 million passenger trips a year in Auckland.”
Auckland Council is currently assessing the potential for cheaper alternatives, as the decision needs to be taken now to enable the delivery of the units by late-2019.
Goff also stated that the procurement may create challenges in the council's debt-to-revenue ratios, which could be fulfilled by minor reprioritisation of AT expenditure.
The purchase decision also depends on an expected 50% funding contribution from the New Zealand Transport Agency.
Image: The current electric fleet can only go as far as Papakura, where passengers have to change trains to travel further south. Photo: courtesy of Auckland Council.