The Victorian Government has signed the contract for 65 new trains, the biggest order in state’s history, with construction to begin in 2017.

A consortium led by Downer Rail will build the new High Capacity Metro Trains (HCMT).

Awarding of the $2 billion contract paves the way for construction of the new trains, which are 20 per cent bigger and will reduce crowding on Victoria’s busiest rail corridor – the Cranbourne Pakenham line – before running as a dedicated fleet from Pakenham to Sunbury through the new Metro Tunnel.

“We’re investing in new trains built in Victoria, for Victoria – putting local jobs and local train users first,” Victorian Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan said.

“Together with the removal of every level crossing between Dandenong and the city, these new trains will reduce crowding and make the daily commute more comfortable for thousands of passengers.”

All of the new trains will be built in Victoria, with 60 per cent local content, exceeding the government’s commitment to 50 per cent local content.

The project will create 1,100 highly-skilled local jobs when it begins construction in 2017.

15 per cent of work on the project will be carried out by apprentices, trainees and engineering cadets, giving young and re-skilling workers a head start in their new careers.

Through partnerships with Toyota, Chisholm Institute and Swinburne University, the HCMT project will also create opportunities for workers transitioning from the automotive industry.

Victorian Minister for Industry and Employment, Wade Noonan, said, “These new trains will create 1,100 highly-skilled jobs and provide experience and opportunities to young workers, and people re-skilling from other sectors, including the auto-industry.

“These new trains are an investment in people – in their livelihoods and the time they get to spend with loved ones. The contract is signed, and work starts next year – we’re getting it done.”

Together with the $1.6 billion Caulfield to Dandenong Level Crossing Removal Project, the new trains will increase capacity on the Cranbourne Pakenham line 42 per cent, creating room for 11,000 extra passengers in the peak.

The first HCMT will be delivered and in testing by November 2018, ready to enter service in 2019. All 65 trains will be ready for the opening of the Metro Tunnel in 2026.

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