BRITISH operator Southeastern has published a tender notice inviting expressions of interest in a contract to supply up to 570 EMU cars for main line and suburban services.

Southeastern says that it is procuring new trains to replace a significant proportion of its ageing fleet and therefore avoid “escalating maintenance, repair and leasing costs.”

It is aiming to order new rolling stock that offers the best value over the medium and long-term “for the benefit of taxpayers, the Department for Transport, Southeastern and, ultimately, Southeastern's customers.”

The new fleet must be in full service by October 2027. The core order will be for between 350 and 570 EMU cars for operation on the 750V dc third rail network, based on a vehicle length of 20m, with an option for up to 70 additional cars.

The tender notice says that the exact size of the core order will be determined once tenders for supply, financing and maintenance have been received and the business case for the new fleet is completed.

The business case will determine which fleet or fleets are to be replaced and therefore establish the final quantity for the core order. Follow-on options may be sought, depending on the recovery of passenger traffic following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bidders will be required to propose a design based on an established platform, and demonstrate their ability to deliver on schedule, obtain acceptance and introduce new rolling stock into service in Britain, “evidenced by previous procurements.”

Key requirements of the new fleet include full compatibility with Southeastern infrastructure, excluding High Speed 1, and full compliance with all applicable accessibility regulations.

The new EMUs must be fitted with interiors suitable for suburban and main line operation, and will be equipped with toilets and air-conditioning.

Bidders must also provide options for supplying the new trains with traction batteries for operation in depots and sidings, on the main line during power failures and on non-electrified routes for a distance of up to 32km.

“Southeastern is seeking a new fleet manufactured, maintained and operated with sustainability in mind, and with reduced carbon footprint, energy usage and embedded carbon,” the tender notice says.

Bidders will also be required to supply initial spares, specialised tools and equipment to support staff training, as well as ongoing maintenance support by means of a materials supply and technical support agreement, whole-life cost guarantees and a performance regime.

The maintenance support agreement will have an initial minimum term of between six and 10 years, with possible extension options up to the full asset life of the new fleet which will be a minimum of 35 years. The minimum term will be confirmed through the procurement process.

Southeastern says that it is undertaking a parallel procurement exercise for financing the new fleet, “as well as a further process for the leasing of existing rolling stock with a view to selecting one or a combination of options.”

Expressions of interest in the contract to supply the new train fleet must be submitted by 17.00 on December 9.

Southeastern will then hold bidder engagement sessions before issuing an invitation to prequalify (ITP) in 2023.

The ITP stage will focus on “high level capability” and previous experience delivering rolling stock and associated maintenance services in the British market, “which will be evaluated to ensure only the most suitable bidders progress to the invitation to negotiate stage later in 2023.”

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