A rather odd article in yesterday’s NZ Herald caught my attention when reading through the Herald website. It would seem as though the “shortlist” for the suppliers of Auckland’s electric trains has been lengthened quite significantly, with a number of new companies vying for the $500 million contract.
Here’s parts of the article:
The Government-owned rail operator is calling for bids from no fewer than 10 parties for 38 three-car trains within a budget of $500 million, compared with a short-list of four announced in July, saying it wants to ensure a superior “whole of life” supply and maintenance deal.
Three Chinese contenders have been added to the list, as well as a Japanese consortium and two Australian firms.
One industry source described the expansion of the list as a “mind-boggling” development at this stage of the contracting process, which is aimed at having the trains delivered between mid-2013 and the following year.
The source feared it could undermine the credibility of the process among those who thought they had the inside running, possibly to the point of driving them away from New Zealand.
I guess on the one hand getting as many bids as possible for the contract is a good thing, as it increases the likelihood we’ll get the best possible trains for the lowest price. However, on the other hand it could lead to delays and just seems, well – odd.
The critical issue is picked up by ARC Chairman Mike Lee:
Auckland Regional Council chairman Mike Lee said the move was a surprise to him, and he hoped it would not lead to any more “slippage” in the project timetable, which was delayed by almost a year after the Government decided to buy the trains rather than expect Aucklander motorists to pay for them through a regional fuel tax.
Another paragraph suggest some slippage in the project’s timeline is inevitable:
KiwiRail chief executive Jim Quinn acknowledged that widening the pool would increase the tender evaluation task, although he still expected the first electric multiple unit trains to arrive in Auckland in June 2013. But asked whether they would all be in service by the target of 2014 on an electrified track network costing the Government a further $500 million, he said that would depend on final negotiations with the successful bidder.
There’s quite a long delay between the first delivery of trains and when they’re up and running. Initially we were promised full completion of electrification by 2013. If we’re still waiting in 2015 to get the last of the units into action it will be very disappointing.