Auckland will have a new passenger rail operator from next year after the current operator, Transdev, failed to win a new tender.
Following an international tender to run the city's rail services, worth about $130 million a year, Auckland Transport has today awarded an eight-year contract to Auckland One Rail - a joint venture comprising ComfortDelGro Transit Pte Ltd (CDGT) and UGL Rail Pty Ltd (UGL Rail).
The unsuccessful tenderer was Aka Tangata Ltd (ATL); a consortium comprising Transdev NZ Ltd, John Holland NZ Ltd and CAF NZ Ltd.
The existing Auckland passenger rail contract has been in place since 2004 and, following several extensions, expires in March 2022.
AT chairwoman Adrienne Young-Cooper said a review of delivering rail services would see Auckland One Rail not only run train services but also maintain the city's electric trains, maintain stations and look after safety and security.
This was done with an eye on $7 billion of investment in the city's rail network, including the $4.4b City Rail Link that is due to open in 2024, electrification of rail from Papakura to Pukekohe and the purchase of extra electric trains over the next few years, she said.
Young-Cooper said the prime driver for moving to the new model is to simplify the running of the rail network and improve customer and safety outcomes.
"While cost savings were not the primary outcome sought, the pricing received through this very competitive procurement process has resulted in savings over current costs," she said.
Auckland's rail network is owned and maintained by KiwiRail, while Auckland Transport owns the trains and train stations and is responsible for providing public transport services.
There are 42 stations across the southern, eastern, western and Onehunga lines, and almost 4000 train services a week.
Young-Cooper said Auckland One Rail will take over Transdev's business and all of its staff, who will remain on their existing terms and conditions of employment.
At this stage, AT will continue to employ transport officers to manage fare evasion.
Auckland One Rail will also establish an additional rolling stock maintenance facility for train overhauls in South Auckland, with targeted employment of Māori and Pasifika into trades and engineering apprenticeships. This complements the existing facility at Wiri.
Young-Cooper said the new contract is part of AT's focus to continue the rapid growth in Aucklanders using the region's rail services, which has grown from just over two million passenger boardings per annum in 2000 to more than 22 million by 2020, a 10-fold increase.
"Auckland One Rail will have a critical role in driving the customer experience forward and bringing innovation to grow the number of people who use trains to move around."
Out of trains, buses and ferries, rail has been hardest hit by Covid. In the week before Auckland went into level 4 lockdown, rail services were running at 68 per cent of pre-Covid levels, compared to 74 per cent for buses and 92 per cent for ferries.
Who are the new operators?
CDGT's parent, CDG, is one of the world's largest multi-modal passenger transport providers, with a footprint in seven countries, more than 24,000 employees and annual turnover in 2020 of NZ$3.4 billion. CDG, through its subsidiary SBS Transit, is the operator and maintainer of two Singapore mass rapid transit lines and a light rail system.
UGL Rail's parent, UGL, is Australia's largest supplier of outsourced rail asset management and rolling stock maintenance services, with a fleet of more than 2000 rail vehicles across its Australian rolling stock maintenance contracts. UGL is also a consortium partner in Metro Trains Melbourne, Metro Trains Sydney, Canberra light rail and the operator of the Adelaide light rail system.