Local employment in Melbourne will benefit from the Victoria state government’s AUD $2 billion public-private partnership to construct 65 new trains, as it will create more than 1,100 jobs.
Kenro cites that from metal manufacturers to steel fabricators, the project will require construction- and industrial-related jobs as part of a 60 percent local content requirement. This means most of the materials would originate from Australia.
The plan also impressed many because of the project’s requirement of apprentices and those from unprivileged backgrounds accounting for at least 15 percent of the expected jobs.
On the flip side, the Australian Workers Union expressed dismay over the state government’s decision to award some of the jobs to a Chinese consortium. Evolution Rail emerged as the winning bidder for the Labour Department’s 12-month tender process.
AWU State Secretary Ben Davis said the Chinese group has a poor track record as evidenced by structural issues with its construction of a railroad project. Bombardier, which submitted a bid for the project, would also have provided 70 percent local content as part of the package.
However, the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union welcomed the project because of its expected contribution to long-term job security and certainty amongst local workers, according to AMWU State Secretary Steve Dargavel.
Steam Engines and Parts
Anticipated to be fully operational in 2026, the 65 new trains will be constructed along the western part of Melbourne. The fleet will be 20 percent longer than the existing ones and the first batch is scheduled for testing in November 2018.
The trains will be assembled at the Newport facility, which will undergo an AUD $16 million improvement, while a new stabling and maintenance depot will be constructed in Pakenham East.
Despite receiving mixed responses, the state government still expects the project to be a catalyst for improving passenger transportation and putting taxpayer money to good use.