High Capacity Metro Trains
|High Capacity Metro Trains|
Scale model at Birrarung Marr
CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles
|Built at||Changchun, China
Newport Workshops (final assembly)
|Entered service||2019 (projected)|
|Number under construction||65|
|Operator(s)||Metro Trains Melbourne|
Calder Park (to be constructed)
Cranbourne (on introduction)
Sunbury (after Metro Tunnel opening)
|Train length||160 metres (520 ft)|
|Platform height||1,170 mm (46 in)|
|Electric system(s)||1,500 V DC catenary|
|Current collection method||pantograph|
|Track gauge||1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)|
The High Capacity Metro Trains are a fleet of electric multiple unit (EMU) trains on order for use by Metro Trains Melbourne on the Melbourne rail network. They are due to enter service in mid-2019 and will eventually become the primary rollingstock used in the Metro Rail Tunnel when it opens in 2026. The HCMTs will carry around 1400 passengers in 7 carriages, running on Melbourne's 1500 V DC overhead catenary system, and will be the most advanced trains in the Metro Trains fleet when they are introduced. A consortium of investors and rail companies is constructing the trains in China and Australia via a contract with the Victorian Government, in addition to upgrade works necessary for the operation of the trains.
The previous major procurement of rollingstock for the Melbourne rail network occurred in 2003, when franchisees M>Train and Connex ordered 62 Siemens Nexas electric multiple units (EMUs) and 58 Alstom X'Trapolis 100 EMUs respectively, as part of their franchise agreements to replace older Hitachi trains. However, the Siemens units suffered major braking issues over the following decade, causing their repeated withdrawal from service; when the State Government tendered for 18 further 6-carriage trains in 2007, it restricted bids to the previous two models ordered and awarded the contract to Alstom. Several further orders were placed for X'Trapolis trains over the next 10 years.
The Public Transport Development Authority (later branded as Public Transport Victoria or PTV) was created in 2011 by the state government under Premier Ted Baillieu with the intent of, among other things, running major studies into the operation of the metropolitan rail network. The Network Development Plan Metropolitan Rail, released publicly in early 2013 in the partial fulfilment of this objective, was designed as a series of concrete proposals for the expansion and consolidation of the rail network over the following 20 years. The NDPMR's first stage, intended to be completed before 2016, acknowledged the need for an interim solution of several more X'Trapolis trains to overcome major constraints, as well as recommending the internal reconfiguration of Siemens and Comeng trains to increase capacity, but identified the provision of new rollingstock as critical to the cost-effective use of existing railway infrastructure.
Among the deficiencies of existing rollingstock noted by the NDPMR were "multi-purpose" designs intended to strike a balance between commuter rail and metro operations, and the failure of existing trains to use the entire length of metropolitan platforms. The NDPMR rejected double-deck trains on the basis that they would increase dwell time at crowded stations, and argued that 220-metre trains, formed by operating the existing 3-car sets as 9-car trains, would require extensive and prohibitively expensive infrastructure works, particularly in the City Loop. Instead, it recommended the procurement of single-level trains with a fixed number of cars, increased standing room and a length of 153 metres (502 ft), with the capacity for expansion to 220 m (720 ft) upon the opening of the Melbourne Metro tunnel. The NDPMR envisaged these trains with a maximum capacity of 1100 and 1600 passengers respectively.
The NDPMR envisaged that these high-capacity trains would completely replace the Comeng fleet by 2032, and be used primarily on the Sunshine–Dandenong line created by the Melbourne Metro. Furthermore, it identified the need for the new trains to include cab signalling to reduce the headway required between trains, and for the construction of new maintenance facilties at several points on the network.
Order and design phase
In June 2015, the new Labor Victorian Government under Premier Daniel Andrews announced that expressions of interest would be requested for 37 new trains to be delivered and maintained for the Melbourne rail network.
In November 2015, three consortia were shortlisted to build and maintain 37 trains:
- Bombardier: Bombardier Transportation, Macquarie Bank, Itochu & Infrared Capital Partners
- Eureka Rail: Alstom, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ & John Laing
- Evolution Rail: Downer Rail, Changchun Railway Vehicles & Plenary Group
In March 2016 the order was increased to 65.
In September 2016 the contract was awarded to the Evolution Rail consortium. New depots to maintain the trains will be built in Pakenham East and Calder Park. By September of the following year, a full-scale mock-up of two carriages had been constructed and was presented to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan.  The mock-up was made available to drivers, technicians, representatives of the Public Transport Users Association and passenger groups including the visually impaired and those with physical disabilities. The Evolution Rail consortium noted that this last stage in the design process marked the fulfilment of the project's first major contractual obligation.
In late 2017, the Locomotive Division of the Victorian Rail Tram and Bus Union lodged proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Metro Trains, claiming that the consortium, government and Metro planned to introduce a lower standard of training for operators of the HCMT. It furthermore refused to support the implementation of the new rollingstock unless all electric train drivers were trained in the operation of the HCMT. Among the union's objections to the project are the necessary changes in work practice and the increased automation of certain processes. This followed criticism by the Australian Workers' Union of the decision to award the contract to Evolution Rail instead of Bombardier, the latter of which had an established manufacturing operation in Dandenong. The government announced the awarding of several subcontracts for the project in December.
The trains are to be delivered as a public–private partnership (PPP) between the State of Victoria and Evolution Rail Pty Ltd, under the Partnerships Victoria agency. The initial contract specifies that the consortium will be responsible for the design, construction and delivery of 65 trains, as well as the construction of a heavy maintenance facility and depot in Pakenham East, the construction of a light maintenance facility in Calder Park, and the provision of two simulators for driver training on the HCMTs. Furthermore, it states that the consortium will be responsible for the maintenance of the HCMTs across their lifetime, and the operation and maintenance of the depots and simulators over the same timeframe.
Evolution Rail is a consortium composed of Changchun Railway Vehicles, a subsidiary of the Chinese state-owned enterprise CRRC; Downer Rail, a manufacturing subsidiary of the Australian Downer Group; and Plenary Group, an Australian management company. It is led by a chief executive officer, Phillip Walker.
Changchun Railway Vehicles will lead development and design for the HCMTs, and manufacture the train bodies as a joint venture with Downer Rail. 60% of construction will be "local content" from a Victorian manufacturing supply chain. Downer will lead the delivery and maintenance of the sets, as well as the construction of the new railyard facilities. Bogies for the trains will be constructed by Hoffman Engineering in Bendigo. The Australian arm of Times Electric will manufacture traction motors and other electrical systems for the HCMTs in Morwell, and SIGMA Air Conditioning will build heating and cooling systems for the trains in Derrimut. Plenary Group is responsible for the financial management of the project; the debt is financed by a group of investment banks led by Westpac.
The contract does not prescribe specific design elements of the HCMTs, but rather requires that the design fulfil a number of objectives centred on the provision of a "safe and comfortable journey for passengers".
The HCMT will be based on the Type A design used by Changchun Railway Vehicles. The trains will have 7 carriages initially, with a total passenger capacity of 1380.. However, provision will be made for the trains to be extended to 10 carriages for a capacity of more than 1970.  An aerodynamic nose cone and retractable cover for the couplers at each end of the trains has been designed to reduce the incidence of train surfing when the HCMTs are in operation.
Approximately 30–40% of passengers will be seated when the train is at full capacity. The standing areas of the train will offer multiple types of straps and handles for the safety of standing passengers, and wide doors for rapid ingress and egress from these areas. As well as 70 passenger information displays (PIDs) in each train, wifi connection will be available throughout the passenger areas. The PIDs will show the next station, current time, and the train's location on an adapted rail map. Displays on the front and sides of the train will indicate its destination. 28 wheelchair spaces and wide aisles between seats will enable easy access for passengers with disabilities.
A number of semi-automated features will be implemented in the HCMT design, including the capacity for low-speed shunting by remote control and for trains to be started without a driver present. The trains will also automatically estimate the passenger load, and the reading can be accessed remotely. Furthermore, the HCMTs will include "stopping aids" to improve the accuracy of train arrivals at platforms. Drivers will also have the capacity to open individual doors on the trains.
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