Five thousand Aucklanders in New Zealand took a free inaugural ride on their new electric trains after the official launch on Sunday 27 April. The tickets, each for a scheduled trip on the new electric units were snapped up in a few hours after release with passengers keen to take advantage of the new line, operated by Transdev, and built by Spanish manufacturer Construcciones y Auxiliar de Ferrocarriles (CAF). The electrification project received the green light in 2007, which the cost of $1.14 billion delivering 57 electric trains each with a capacity of 375 passengers. Siemens Rail Automation (formerly Invensys Rail) supplied the Westrace interlockings and ETCS Level 1 for automatic train protection.
Speaking at the launch, NZ Transport Agency Chief Executive Geoff Dangerfield: “The operation of the first section of the electrified network is a very significant development for Auckland and for Aucklanders. Modern, quiet, and faster trains will encourage more people to use rail, and we expect that to have a positive impact on transport right across Auckland.”
Alongside the $1.1b the New Zealand government provided KiwiRail to electrify lines and improve tracks and signalling, the Transport Agency provided just over half of the $520m to buy and maintain the new trains, and just over half of the $105m to construct their depot at Wiri. The Agency has also co-invested in Auckland Transport’s programme of station upgrades.The Transport Agency’s funds are provided through the National Land Transport Programme (NLTP), which distributes money collected from fuel taxes, road user charges, and vehicle registration fees.
Dangerfield continued; “Investing some of those funds in public transport benefits everyone who travels. Improved public transport gives people with more travel choices - they don’t have to rely on their car - and helps reduce congestion on busy motorways and roads.”
Project facts and figures (source: http://www.transdev.co.nz)
•There are now 12 electric train units in Auckland. Seven have been commissioned - that is, they have their registration and warrants with five more about to be tested.
•The supplier, CAF has used equipment from Japan, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Spain - taking the best from the world to create trains specifically for Auckland.
•It takes more than 15,000 hours to fabricate and assemble one electric train unit, there are 110km of wiring in each unit.
•Each train is tested for 1000 hours on the tracks.
•To create the weight of passengers while we were testing the trains, we used 1800 20kgs sandbags on each train.
•To date we have trained 47 drivers, 86 train managers and 13 supervisors.
•We have spent 3008 hours on driver training and 1504 hours on theory.
•Drivers have spent 752 hours on the electric train simulator.
•To date we have driven more than 25,000kms with the electric trains during testing and commissioning.