\r\nIn July Auckland Council\u2019s Finance and Performance Committee agreed to go ahead with the IPEMU purchase based on a business case which had been approved by the AT board the previous month. The business case put forward two options for the procurement - purchasing 15 EMUs at a cost of $NZ 133m ($US 92m) or 17 IPEMUs based on the AM class and equipped with CAF\u2019s own battery system, which had a pricetag of $NZ 207m.\r\nThe IPEMUs would have operated under electric power between Britomart and Papakura, switching to battery mode for the remainder of the journey to Pukekohe. At present passengers have to change from electric to connecting diesel services at Papakura. The business case indicated a $NZ 67m cost saving could be achieved by eliminating DMU operation.\r\nFollowing approval by Auckland Council, the proposal went to the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) for final sign-off. However, in the run-up to New Zealand\u2019s general election on September 23, a political consensus emerged in favour of bringing forward electrification of the Papakura - Pukekohe line, prompting the NZTA to reject the case for battery trains.\r\nAbandonment of the IPEMU plan was subsequently confirmed at a meeting of Auckland Council\u2019s Finance and Performance Committee on October 24. \u201cA key consideration for the IPEMUs over the standard EMUs as the base case option was the ability to operate IPEMUs in the un-electrified network between Pukekohe and Papakura, based on the assumed date of electrification to Pukekohe of 2027\/2028,\u201d the meeting notes state. \u201cSubsequent to the council\u2019s decision and just prior to the intended confirmation to proceed by the NZTA board, the government announced its intended funding of electrification from Papakura to Pukekohe. The NZTA board therefore considered that it could not approve the 17 IPEMUs purchase if early electrification would provide a similar service level with the lower-cost EMUs.\u201d\r\nNZTA has agreed to contribute $NZ 65.2m towards the order for 15 three-car EMUs, with the remaining $NZ 65.2m coming from Auckland Council.\r\nThe three-car trains will be delivered in 2019, enabling AT to accommodate surging ridership and expand the AM class fleet in readiness for the opening of the City Rail Link in 2023.\r\nCAF says the contract will include an option to equip the trains with battery packs at a later date if required.\r\nAuckland\u2019s suburban network has witnessed steady ridership growth since the AM class EMUs entered service in 2013. The original business case for the fleet anticipated patronage of 17.8 million in 2017 and 20.8 million in 2023. However, ridership rose by 17% in 2016-17 to 19.6 million, and is now forecast to reach its maximum 21.9 million capacity by mid-2019.