Tenders Close For Auckland Trains


Tenders close tomorrow for the $500 million job to build 38 three-car electric multiple units and 13 locomotives for the Auckland rail network.

Rail workers say KiwiRail must honour the local content provisions it put in tender documents for the construction of Auckland’s new trains.

And all eyes on whether it seems a done deal to choose a Chinese firm.

KiwiRail called for Expressions of Interest in May last year and in July a group of four preferred bidders was announced. However, at the beginning of September, KiwiRail announced it had extended the number of bidders from 4 to 10. That list is here

Labour MP Clare Curran said that at the time concerns were expressed about the integrity of the tender process, the priorities of this government and the lack of transparency by Transport Minister Steven Joyce.

“Since then, KiwiRail’s decision to choose China CNR Corporation (CNR) as its preferred tenderer to supply 300 wagons, has raised more questions about Kiwirail’s and the government’s real intentions for New Zealand’s rail engineering industry. ”
Labour’s Trevor Mallard is concerned about local workers.

“The decision to choose China’s CNR as the preferred tenderer doesn’t take into account the wider economic benefits and spin-offs for New Zealand of using KiwiRail’s own staff at the Hillside Workshops in Dunedin and at Woburn in Lower Hutt to do the work. Under the National Government a question mark now hangs over Hillside’s future and the future of rail engineering in this country. The Hillside and Woburn workshops, along with the engineering cluster groups in Dunedin and Wellington have proven they are capable of undertaking a large part of this work at competitive prices and at high quality. Jobs for New Zealanders in a viable and important industry should be one of the key factors when deciding who gets this important contract.”

KiwiRail’s May 2010 tender document encouraged firms to ally themselves with New Zealand subcontractors or suppliers and “include as much New Zealand content and resources in the design, construction, delivery, testing, maintenance and support of the EMUs as is appropriate.”

Economics consultancy BERL estimated in May last year that local construction of these would add between 770 to 1270 additional jobs and $232 to $250 million to GDP. Its report is here

Wayne Butson, the Rail and Maritime Transport Union secretary,  says: “We have always wanted these trains to be built in Dunedin and Lower Hutt, and there was a comprehensive economic case backing a local build. But local involvement provisions from the lead supplier was the next option, and we want to make sure this is rigorously pursued by KiwiRail.”

He said rail workers were gutted when it was announced that New Zealand workshops would not be building either the Electric Multiple Unions for Auckland, or 300 new container flat top wagons, which also went overseas.

“KiwiRail has the capacity in Dunedin and Lower Hutt, it has a workforce dead keen to do the work, and it has a solid economic case for local involvement. They now have a chance to back the retention of a well trained rail workforce, rather than see more skilled trades people head overseas.”

Auckland's fleet will be replaced with new electric ones

KiwiRail’s procurement document for Auckland’s new electric trains expect train delivery to commence in the first quarter of 2013 with a delivery rate that will require all rains by no later than 2014.

It says that the trains will be placed into service from mid 2013 onwards.

The decision on the successful bidder is due late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of this year.




  1. Cam says:

    So how soon until we know the winning bid?

  2. Jon C says:

    @Cam The decision on the successful bidder is due late in the first quarter or early in the second quarter of this year.

  3. Matt L says:

    Many people suspect that the winning bid was decided months ago and that this is just Kiwirail going through the formalities to make it look legit. This has been a pretty strong thought ever since they unusually extended the tender to include 6 extra companies after only initially short listing 4. It is suspected that the consortium that CNR is part of will win the bid, especially considering how much work Kiwirail have given to them recently (bogies for the SA sets, DL loco’s, container wagons etc)

  4. DanC says:

    I do hope for the economy / employment sake they go with “buy NZ made”.But where ever they come from how good is it going to have Auckland’s rail electrified!

  5. Tenders Close For Auckland Trains - Featured - AKT…

    Here at World Spinner we are debating the same thing……

  6. Andrew says:

    @DanC, still great, assuming we don’t get cheap nasty EMUs that cut corners and become unreliable after only a few years.

  7. Simon says:

    Exactly Andrew. This city has waited DECADES for electric trains that other cities around the world take for granted. It is extremely important that these trains be top class as many people who have put up with what we have currently got are sticking to their guns in the hope that the future will be brighter when it comes to taking the train in Auckland. And there will be those who don`t take PT at the moment but given the opportunity to ride on fast, reliable, regular electric trains give it a go. If we get cheap and nasty, with reliability problems that will be a big setback for rail PT in Auckland. You can see what happens when it`s not properly done the first time in the case of Britomart for example. This time we have got to get it right first time round, hence everyone`s nervousness with how this has gone so far. So yeah, Damian many are thinking “Cool we are getting electric trains” but we`re also holding our breaths big time over just what kind of quality train we get!

  8. But why not simply build more Matangis as the EMU element in the Auckland electric train order. This would, through economies of scale, surely result in a much reduced total cost?

    Obviously the locomotives would be a separate issue. (Incidentally wouldn’t it be good if the locos were to be built dual voltage to ensure eventual through running to Wellington?)

    My wife and I have travelled in the ex BR conversions and think you have done a super job on them!

  9. joust says:

    The interiors and carriages we have now are pretty good. Just a shame about the noise, smoke and slow speeds from diesel.

  10. Scott says:

    @John Gilbert, the requirements are quite different:

    -Wellington is 1500V DC, Auckland is going to be 25KV AC
    - Wellingtons loading gauge (in particular the J-ville line) is quite tight. this means Matangies cars are 20m long, auckland has ordered 24m cars, this results in reduced cost/capacity as less boogies/couplers per passenger are required
    - Wellington needs end (cab) emergency exits, auckland does not
    - Auckland has elected for less operational flexibility than wellington, wellington has ordered 2 car units while auckland has ordered 3 car units this means less cabs per capacity, saving weight and cost, also could allow staffing costs to be lower.

    It seems it has been decided that the advantages of having customized auckland stock outweighs the advantage of having unified stock with wellington.


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