Auckland Council’s finance & performance committee will vote on Wednesday on a proposal to buy 17 3-car rail units.
The independently powered electrical multiple units will cost $207 million and are intended to meet forecast patronage growth from 2019.
The council needs to approve up to $25 million in its 2017-18 budget for a deposit for the order to be made in September.
Conditions of the purchase are that the NZ Transport Agency will commit to funding at least 50% of the capital & operational expenditure, and the timing of the NZTA funding must align with the cashflow requirement of the procurement & operation.
In addition, Auckland Transport must reprioritise its capital budget to provide $50 million of the purchase funding, so the council’s projected debt:revenue ratio doesn’t exceed its limit of 265%.
Mayor Phil Goff said on Friday: “New electric & battery-powered trains will have major benefits for commuters living south of Papakura in the high growth areas of Drury, Paerata, Pukekohe & potentially Pokeno. It will also honour a commitment I made at the last election.
“The purchase of the new units, which can operate on lines not yet electrified, allows us to eliminate aging, less reliable diesel trains currently used on the Pukekohe line.
“For commuters, it means removing the need to transfer trains at Papakura, making travel quicker & more convenient. It brings in a cleaner form of transport, eliminating diesel emissions, and ensures a more reliable & comfortable trip for commuters.
“The result is a more attractive public transport system which will help tackle growing congestion levels, especially on the Southern Motorway.
“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/year in Auckland.”
Mr Goff said the council was also examining cheaper options. One of those is to buy 15 electrical multiple units (not independently powered) for $133 million. Another is to buy units with Korean batteries for $174 million.
Committee agenda item
Attribution: Mayoral release & committee agenda.