Matangi Train

New Zealand’s Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) has selected the partnership of Transdev Australasia and Hyundai Rotem as preferred bidder for a contract to operate the city’s metro rail service.

GWRC will now begin negotiations with Transdev to finalise the terms of the 15-year performance-based contract, with the aim to award the contract by next March.

If the negotiations are successful, Transdev will take over operations from the current operator TranzMetro in next July.

According to the council, the contract requires the winning bidder to retain 400 staff currently employed by KiwiRail’s subsidiary TranzMetro, and maintain the new Matangi trains.

GWRC chair Chris Laidlaw said: "The rail contract is the first of all-new, performance-based contracts for our train, bus and harbour ferry services.

"The new contracts will mean better services for customers and provide strong incentives for operators to grow patronage by making public transport easier and smarter."

Tenders were submitted by other competitors such as the UK-based operator Serco, and Keolis Downer in partnership with KiwiRail.

"We know that using public transport in Wellington is a part of its residents’ DNA, but there is significant room for growth."

Transdev currently operates the Auckland passenger rail service under a contract with Auckland Transport.

Hyundai Rotem is the manufacturer of the region’s Matangi 1-5 kV DC electric train fleet used in Wellington.

Transdev Australasia acting CEO Peter Lodge said: "We look forward to the next stage of the process and concluding the contract with GWRC in the new year."

Hyundai Rotem is currently delivering a fleet of 83 FP class Matangi two-car EMUs to replace life-expired rolling stock on the Metlink network and the final trains are scheduled to be delivered next year.

Transdev Hyundai Rotem heavy rail dusiness development director and chief operating officer Alan Bannister said: "We know that using public transport in Wellington is a part of its residents’ DNA, but there is significant room for growth.

"Key to our success will be putting customers at the centre of our decision-making process, utilising these expectations to form the foundation of service improvements."

Transdev currently operates 23 rail networks in six countries and has been operating Auckland’s passenger rail service since 2004.

Image: A Matangi train on the Johnsonville Line. Photo: courtesy of Tranz Metro.