SINGAPORE: ComfortDelGro has been awarded a S$1.13 billion contract to operate rail services in Auckland, marking the group's first foray into the New Zealand land transport market.
The contract will commence on Jan 16 next year and is for an initial term of eight years with the opportunity for further extensions, ComfortDelGro said on Friday (Aug 27).
Auckland Transport awarded the Auckland Rail Franchise (ARF) to Auckland One Rail (AOR) after a 12-month long tender process.
AOR is a 50:50 joint venture company between ComfortDelGro and UGL Rail Services, an Australian rail operations and maintenance company under the CIMIC Group.
Under the contract, ComfortDelGro said AOR will assume responsibility for passenger train operations across the network.
This includes the provision of drivers and other train staff, development of timetables, station operations and maintenance, security, customer facing activities and revenue protection.
AOR will also manage the Auckland Network Access Agreement and KiwiRail interfaces, as well as be responsible for the maintenance of the rolling stock from 2025.
In a report on Friday, the NZ Herald said that the new operator would run nearly 4,000 train services a week across 42 stations in the southern, eastern, western and Onehunga lines.
The ARF's current operator, Transdev, failed to win a new tender with a consortium - Aka Tangata - consisting of two other operators and itself, said the NZ Herald.
AOR will take over Transdev's business and all of its staff, who will remain on their existing terms and conditions of employment, Auckland Transport chairwoman Adrienne Young-Cooper told the NZ Herald.
AOR would also maintain the city's electric trains, stations, as well as look after safety and security.
LARGEST RAIL NETWORK IN NEW ZEALAND
The Auckland Rail network is the largest in New Zealand and comprises four lines representing 185km of track with 42 stations, 72 three-car electric multiple unit (EMU) trains and eight diesel multiple unit trains.
ComfortDelGro said this will grow to 44 stations and 95 EMU trains from the opening of Auckland’s new City Rail Link, which is planned for 2024. This is expected to result in a "significant increase" in rail patronage.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the network had an annual ridership of 21 million, added ComfortDelGro.
“This marks a very significant milestone in our history. It not only represents our first rail operation outside of Singapore but also our maiden entry into New Zealand," said ComfortDelGro’s Managing Director Yang Ban Seng.
"We are excited to leverage our experience of operating and maintaining Singapore’s world-class MRT system and are looking forward to delivering connected, safe and reliable customer journeys for Auckland’s travelling public.”
ComfortDelGro owns 75 per cent of SBS Transit, a bus and rail operator in Singapore. SBS Transit currently operates Singapore's North East and Downtown MRT lines, as well as the Light Rail System in Punggol and Sengkang.
According to its website, it also operates more than 200 bus services with a fleet of about 3,000 buses.
The group has been operating commuter rail services in Singapore through its listed subsidiary, SBS Transit, since 2003.