Ballarat train builder Alstom has failed in its bid to build the State Government’s new High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT) project.
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Alstom was part of the Eureka Rail consortium, along with the Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ and John Laing, tendering for the 65-train venture, forming part of the government’s Trains Trams Jobs 2015-2025 strategy..
It was hoped the project would bring hundreds of long term jobs to Ballarat and have considerable flow-on economic benefit for parts suppliers and ongoing maintenance contracts. The winning tender for the HCMT train construction will be based in Newport.
As a bittersweet consolation, the government has announced Alstom will build another nine X’Trapolis trains. The trains have six carriages each, and bring to a total 19 trains ordered from the Ballarat builder.
Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allen acknowledged that Alstom would likely be disappointed in the tender outcome, which was won by a consortium comprising Downer EDI, Changchun Railway Vehicles and Plenary.
“I haven’t had that personal conversation with them; you could assume that’s how they were feeling,” said Ms Allen.
“But there’s also an opportunity to see the future pipeline that’s on offer here in Victoria.”
Ms Allan said she would be accompanied by local MPs Sharon Knight and Geoff Howard in a visit to the Alstom workshops to speak to management and employees about their futures.
Ms Knight said she was dismayed by the decision, but acknowledged it was a competitive process. “I’ve spoken to a number of the (Alstom) workers this morning, and they like me are really so disappointed,” Ms Knight said.
“We are pleased about the 54 extra carriages. That’s going to keep the workforce going until 2019. We’re going to work out how to make those workshops thrive.”
Alstom has acknowledged the decision, but did not comment.
Announcing the winning tender in Newport, Premier Daniel Andrews said the package would include 60 per cent local content, as well as a requirement for 15 per cent of the workplace to be apprentices and from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Mr Andrews said the project would create 1100 jobs. The $2 billion public-private partnership will last 35 years and includes maintenance. A new stabling and maintenance depot will be built in Pakenham East creating 100 jobs.
The AWU, which represents workers at rival bidder Bombardier, has previously warned that the subsidiary of CRRC, Changchun Railways Vehicles has a poor track record.
AWU state secretary Ben Davis said trains built by the Chinese company for Singapore in the past had serious structural problems and there were reports from South Africa that CRRC did not meet its promised local content.
He said Bombardier would have provided 70 per cent local content.
"The decision is plain wrong when $2 billion of Victorian taxpayers' money goes to a contractor with a track record of not delivering the goods, or the jobs," Mr Davis said.
"The contract should have gone to the bidder who would create the most local jobs. It is beyond disappointing when jobs go to China, but this is heart-breaking to see what should have been a manufacturing boost for the state turned into little more than an assembly project."
The announcement was immediately welcomed by the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union.
"This announcement not only provides security and certainty to hundreds of workers and their industry, it also commits to long-term jobs and training opportunities for a new generation of highly-skilled workers," said AMWU State Secretary Steve Dargavel.
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