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(AUS) Trains built in China face much more work in NSW

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From The Sydney Morning Herald.

Trains built in China face much more work in NSW

Jacob Saulwick

March 1, 2011


THE company building Sydney's new train carriages has conceded it will have to redo a significant amount of work in Australia, after revealing production problems at its Chinese subcontractor.


Downer EDI yesterday admitted that it would struggle to meet a deadline set only one month ago to deliver the first Waratah train by late next month, which would have made it available for service in May or June.


Releasing its half-yearly results, Downer said that while Changchun Railway Vehicles had done a good job constructing the shell of the carriages, it was having major issues with the train's internal fit-out, such as its seats and vestibules.

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Many of the carriages that have arrived in Australia have damaged interiors, said Ross Spicer, the rail executive appointed in December to oversee production.


The first 15 of 78 train sets will now be fitted out at the company's Cardiff factory in the Hunter using more ''skilled artisan staff,'' Mr Spicer said.


Downer will then redesign the interiors to make them easier to assemble in China. But over the life of the project the company will require an extra 770,000 hours of labour in Australia than it had previously planned for.


Downer, the lead contractor in the Reliance Rail public private partnership, has already written off $440 million on the contract.


It is heading into another potential dispute with RailCorp over the software to be installed in the trains.


As reported in the Herald yesterday, RailCorp retains concern over software that has been installed in the first train scheduled for delivery next month. Mr Spicer said there were some ''anomalies and some defects'' with the software, but it should be safe to use.


But if RailCorp rejects the software, which it is entitled to under the contract, that would delay the arrival of the first train for another seven weeks, so it would not be on the tracks until as late as July.


A spokesman for RailCorp said: ''RailCorp wants the new Waratah trains operating in service as soon as possible, but we will not compromise on passenger safety, performance or reliability.''


The absent Waratah trains are an embarrassment for the Labor government, though Downer has taken on much of the blame. Yesterday it conceded it did not have enough qualified staff to deliver on its $1.9 billion contract.


''Downer has got good people, good engineers, good project managers but not enough experience of how to build large numbers of trains in high output,'' Mr Spicer said.


The Opposition Leader, Barry O'Farrell, called the latest delay a terrible blow for Sydney commuters.


''If elected in March, the first thing we will do is sit down with consortia to work out what can be done to undo Labor's incompetence and get these carriages as early as possible to relieve the Sydney rail system,'' Mr O'Farrell said.



How EDI got the contract is beyond me.

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