NSW's $2 billion order for new intercity trains running late

Blue Mountains MP Trish Doyle has called on NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance to apologise to commuters following confirmation of delays to the new intercity train fleet.

The first of the trains to roll off the assembly line had initially been expected to arrive by ship in March but they are now unlikely to be delivered until November or December.

A concept design of the new intercity commuter train which will feature fixed seating. Photo: supplied.

A concept design of the new intercity commuter train which will feature fixed seating. Photo: supplied.

"Not only do Mr Constance's new trains not fit the tracks, tunnels and platforms in the Blue Mountains, they are being equipped with low quality, fixed seating which intercity passengers do not want, and now we learn that they are going to be delivered even later than anticipated," Ms Doyle said.

Under the original timeframe, the new intercity trains were due to begin services on the Blue Mountains line to Mount Victoria by the middle of next year, followed by Lithgow about four months later.

"Minister Constance should not be trusted to deliver a pizza, let alone a multi-billion dollar transport project. Almost two years ago the government assured me this project was coming along fine but it now turns out it was not coming along at all but has instead been mired in delays and failure," said Ms Doyle.

Mr Constance said the government's "priority is getting a world class train on the tracks to service the communities which are currently being served by the 40 year old sets".

"We want to make sure we have the modern day facilities and amenities on these trains, particularly for people with disabilities and at the same time work with our drivers, our staff to make sure these trains are delivered as soon as possible.

"There are ongoing industrial issues in relation to the design of the train being worked through but my expectation is we'll see a train arrive later this year. We're just getting on with the job and at the same time expect Transport for NSW and union can work through the issues. No one is rushing the testing or commissioning of any train and that is my expectation. I don't care if takes a bit longer, it's got to be done with safety first."

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Ms Doyle will return to Parliament this week and seek answers to a fresh batch of parliamentary questions about the new intercity fleet. In particular, she will be seeking specific answers about the timing and cost of track and tunnel modifications between Springwood and Lithgow that are necessary to accommodate the new wide-body trains.

"Now that we know the train production project has been delayed, we deserve answers about this government's capacity to deliver on the second half of their now half-broken promise; that these trains will actually one day make it to Lithgow," she said.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance on one of the existing V-set trains.

NSW Transport Minister Andrew Constance on one of the existing V-set trains.

Transport for NSW secretary Rodd Staples said the first of the new trains would arrive late this year, and a "timeline for them to enter service would be confirmed once they arrive".

"There are a number of moving parts involved in any project of this scale and we will continue to work closely with RailConnect to get these trains on the tracks as soon as possible for our intercity customers," he said.

"Testing [in Korea] started in March 2019 and has allowed us to run the trains all day rather than be limited by short shut-down periods on the busy Sydney Trains network.

"This means that any fine-tuning can take place at the manufacturing facility before the train is shipped."

The Berejiklian government ordered an extra 42 carriages for the intercity fleet in February, which boosted the total order to 55 new trains and 554 double-deck carriages.

Mr Staples said the order for extra carriages had "also had an impact on the delivery schedule".

The new trains' fixed seating configuration received criticism early last year after it was revealed half of the seats will always be facing backwards, as opposed to the reversible flip seats on existing trains.

Some of the anticipated features include tray tables, charging ports for mobile devices, more space for luggage, prams and bicycles, improved accessibility, and modern heating, ventilation and air conditioning.

The new trains will replace the ageing V-sets, which are due to be retired by 2022 after four decades of service.

- with Sydney Morning Herald