Very disappointing given that timing of maintenance and replacement of stock is an important part of PT infrastructure planning for the city.
PRODUCTION of 50 new low-floor trams for Melbourne has fallen a year behind schedule because Dandenong-based manufacturer Bombardier has battled with the complex demands of building them.
The first of the trams was meant to be delivered to the state government on December 19 but will instead arrive by the end of July, seven months late.
”We’ve designed a tram that’s going to be fit to meet Melbourne’s infrastructure requirements, and that’s been really complex,” Mr Spink said. ”It’s a brand new [type of] tram that’s being built and that’s had its engineering issues.”
A number of Bombardier’s local suppliers have also struggled with the project’s demands with some going out of business. But Mr Spink said the company was on top of its problems now, and would speed up production.
Public Transport Victoria chief executive Ian Dobbs said it was now clear Bombardier had underestimated the complexity of the project.
”We are extremely disappointed with Bombardier’s failure to meet the contract delivery date for the first tram,” Mr Dobbs said. ”We accept that they have faced a lot of problems with construction and also with the collapse of some key suppliers, but until recently we had received assurances that new processes would be put in place to make up lost time.”
Bombardier will be financially penalised for missing its deadline, although a Public Transport Victoria spokesman said the authority had not yet calculated the amount.
The new trams are a $300 million project to add capacity to Melbourne’s straining network. The first will be deployed on route 96 between East Brunswick and St Kilda, the city’s busiest tram route.
The trams carry 210 passengers, more than any other in the network, and are the first to be manufactured in Melbourne since the early 1990s. Bombardier has also built 134 VLocity train carriages for V/Line, Metro’s ageing fleet of Comeng trains, and Yarra Trams’ Z, A and B-class trams.
The delay in low-floor trams in turn delays deployment of high-capacity trams from route 96 to other lines. Yarra Trams spokesman Colin Tyrus said the operator was looking forward to getting the first new tram, to be called the E-Class, but did not say which routes would get the freed-up high-capacity trams.
New low-floor tram stops have recently been built along High Street in Northcote as part of a $30 million project to improve tram travel times along route 86 from Bundoora to Docklands. Low-floor trams do not yet run along that route.
August 18, 2012 Adam Carey
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