CRRC among contenders for $1.6bn WA rail upgrade

CRRC among contenders for $1.6bn WA rail upgrade

Mon, 23/04/2018 - 13:45

CRRC is the world's largest manufacturer of rail transit equipment. Photo: CRRC

China’s biggest train manufacturer, CRRC Corporation, is expected to be a strong contender to build 246 new railcars over the next decade for the Western Australian government, with tenders to be released this week for the $1.6 billion infrastructure upgrade.

The WA state government today officially called for proponents to bid to build the rail cars, which will enable the comprehensive expansion of Perth’s public transport system under Labor’s Metronet plan.

Premier Mark McGowan said the winning proponent would be required to include a local content target of 50 per cent, part of the state governments plans to boost local jobs.

The state government began engaging with potential proponents in October last year, with CRRC part of a Metronet procurement conference which also featured some of the globe’s biggest rail manufacturers.

CRRC is expected to compete with French multi-national group Alstom and a joint venture between Bombardier and EDI Downer for the works, with those companies also presenting at the October conference.

Headquartered in Beijing, CRRC, which bills itself as the world’s largest supplier of rail transit equipment, has 46 wholly-owned subsidiaries and more than 180,000 employees.

At the October conference, CRRC said it would aim to cooperate with local partners for assembly and manufacturing.

CRRC has an annual production capacity of around 1,000 sets of rail cars at its factories in China, with 53 variants of electric locomotives.

The company has a 61 per cent market share in China.

By comparison, Alstom has around 32,800 employees across 60 countries of operation.

Bombardier and Downer have extensive experience supplying rail cars for the WA state government, having built 330 rail cars since 1987.

A separate Bombardier and Downer joint venture also maintains the current Perth public transport fleet.

The first stage of the project will comprise the construction of 102 new rail cars, making up 17 six-car sets to service Metronet.

A follow-on order of 144 cars, or 24 six-car sets, will also be included in the tender, as the government seeks to phase out its older rail stock.

Delivery of the first 17 six-car sets is due in 2021, while the additional trains will be built between 2023 and 2026.

Mr McGowan said the requirement for 50 per cent of the rail cars to be built in WA would boost the local manufacturing sector and create hundreds of employment opportunities.

“My government’s number one priority is WA jobs and with a long-term plan to boost local manufacturing, it makes sense that we cement this strategy in place to build these extra rail cars in WA,” the premier said in a statement.

“Once these trains are delivered, our existing A-series trains operating on the heritage lines will be coming close to or exceeding their operational life of 30 years.”

A shortlist of companies will progress to an interactive tendering process before a final supplier is chosen early next year.