Contract signed for more Matangi trains for Wellington region

Thirty five more Matangi trains are on the way for the Wellington following a deal signed recently between the Greater Wellington Regional Council and train manufacturer Hyundai-Rotem.

The deal means that by the end of 2016 the region will have a single Matangi fleet for its metropolitan rail services.

Fran Wilde, Chair of the Regional Council, says the contract for more Matangi trains marks a truly significant step change for train services in the region.

“Within a few years there will be no more rickety old trains on our network – every train you catch will be modern, reliable and comfortable. For ratepayers, it’s great value for money because we’ll have extended warranties, lower maintenance costs and no need to replace the electric train fleet for at least 30 years. It also means that KiwiRail, the operator, need to train staff on only one type of train, so there will be more flexibility with just one fleet and simpler maintenance regimes.

“This new deal is possible because of Hyundai-Rotem, who offered us more new trains at a competitive price, and the NZ Transport Agency, who have put in substantial funding. The alternative was to have been refurbishing the 30-year-old Ganz Mavag trains which was certainly not optimal but looked to be our only option until this opportunity arose.

“It was no surprise that a survey of residents last year showed overwhelming support for new Matangi trains rather than refurbishing the Ganz Mavags. Passengers, drivers and train staff love the new fleet. The air-conditioning, superior passenger information systems, facilities for less able passengers, wheelchairs and buggies are giving Wellingtonians the train experience they deserve.”

Kāpiti’s regional councillor Nigel Wilson said the new order was great news for Kāpiti.

“We already have mainly Matangi trains on the Kāpiti line and given the distance to Wellington the new trains give the comfort passengers require of a modern rail fleet.”

Mr Wilson said the push now must be for the extension of the electrification to Ōtaki. “Quite frankly the regional network will not be complete until we get to Ōtaki and that needs to be the push now.”

The new trains will cost about $170m.

The contract, which is with the council-owned company Greater Wellington Rail Ltd, also includes $10m worth of upgrades for the 48 existing Matangi trains to fit them with automatic couplers and LED light. The new couplers will make adding cars to train consists quicker and safer and the new lights will reduce the risk of light bulbs being blown.

The first of the next batch of Matangi trains will probably arrive around the middle of 2015 with the whole fleet expected some time in 2016.