The order is part of a 2018 framework agreement for the supply of rolling stock for use by the state’s V/Line operator, and comprises 12 1600mm-gauge sets and six 1435mm-gauge trains, to be manufactured at Bombardier’s Dandenong facility near Melbourne.

The six 1435mm-gauge trains will be the first standard-gauge DMUs for V/Line, and will operate on the North East Line between Melbourne and Albury-Wodonga following the completion of a $A 235m ($US 172.2m) upgrade project. Work on the 316km line is currently scheduled for completion in mid-2021. The DMUs will replace the existing locomotive-hauled trains on the route.

The 1600mm-gauge trains will supplement V/Line’s existing fleet of 76 VLocity trains currently operating on its broad-gauge network, which each have a capacity for 216 passengers.

The trains will have more comfortable seats, mobile phone signal boosters, USB chargers, luggage racks and overhead storage, modern catering facilities and accessibility improvements including six wheelchair spaces with adjacent companion seats. The broad gauge trains will also feature dedicated storage areas for bicycles.

The trains will be manufactured using 69% locally sourced material, and are expected to create 100 manufacturing jobs during their construction.

The Australasian Railway Association (ARA) has welcomed this decision. “Rail contractors and manufacturers are actively looking to increase their use of Australian businesses in the wake of the pandemic, and these projects provide new opportunities to do so,” says Ms Caroline Wilkie, CEO of ARA.

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