New rail operator for Auckland

Auckland will have a new passenger rail operator from next year.

Auckland Transport today announced the result of an international tender for the City’s rail services, worth around $130 million a year. The contract has an eight-year initial term.

The successful operator is Auckland One Rail (AOR); a joint venture comprising ComfortDelGro Transit Pte Ltd (CDGT) and UGL Rail Pty Ltd (UGL Rail) in a 50:50 equity relationship.

AOR brings the expertise of two world class transport organisations.

CDGT’s parent, CDG, is one of the world’s largest multi-modal passenger transport providers, with a footprint in seven countries, more than 24,000 employees and annual turnover in 2020 of NZ$3.4 billion. CDG, through its subsidiary SBS Transit, is the operator and maintainer of two Singapore mass rapid transit lines and a light rail system.

UGL Rail’s parent, UGL, is Australia’s largest supplier of outsourced rail asset management and rolling stock maintenance services, with a fleet of more than 2,000 rail vehicles across its Australian rolling stock maintenance contracts. UGL is also consortium partner in Metro Trains Melbourne, Metro Trains Sydney, Canberra light rail and the operator of the Adelaide light rail system.

The unsuccessful tenderer was Aka Tangata Ltd (ATL); a consortium comprising Transdev NZ Ltd, John Holland NZ Ltd and CAF NZ Ltd.

The existing Auckland passenger rail contract has been in place since 2004 and, following several extensions, expires in March 2022.

AT’s chair Adrienne Young -Cooper says the review of the current way of delivering rail services provided an opportunity to change the delivery model to better integrate all aspects of operations, with an eye on $7 billion of investment that is being made in rail with the construction of the City Rail Link opening in 2024, electrification of the rail line between Papakura and Pukekohe, and the purchase of additional electric trains over the next few years.

As a result, the new contract will see AOR having responsibility for not only train operations but also electric train maintenance, station operations and maintenance, safety, and security.

“The prime driver for moving to a more vertically integrated model is to reduce organisational interfaces and to improve customer and safety outcomes,” she says. “While cost savings were not the primary outcome sought, the pricing received through this very competitive procurement process has resulted in savings over current costs.”

Mrs Young-Cooper adds that the transaction has been structured so that the incoming operator takes over the existing Transdev Auckland operating company and all of its staff, ensuring that the Transdev Auckland staff remain on their existing terms and conditions of employment.

At this stage AT will continue to employ transport officers to manage fare evasion.

AOR will also establish an additional rolling stock maintenance facility for train overhauls in South Auckland with targeted employment of Māori and Pasifika into trades and engineering apprenticeships. This complements the existing facility at Wiri.

The contract award is part of AT’s ongoing focus to continue the rapid growth in Aucklanders using the region’s rail services, which has grown from just over 2 million passenger boardings per annum in 2000 to over 22 million by 2020, a 10-fold increase.

“This new rail franchise contract represents a significant investment for Auckland and Aucklanders,” says Mrs Young-Cooper. “The robust procurement process ensured AT was able to secure a competitive contract, despite the effects of the global pandemic on the international rail sector.

“Auckland One Rail will have a critical role in driving the customer experience forward and bringing innovation to grow the number of people who use trains to move around.”

Auckland Mayor Phil Goff, says, “Aucklanders have told us they want frequent and reliable public transport to travel around our city. Ensuring we have a world class and experienced rail franchise operator is an important part of providing an outstanding rail service that Aucklanders will want to use and can rely on.”

AT also acknowledges the work of Transdev Auckland Ltd who has been the operator of rail services in Auckland since 2004. Over that time patronage has grown significantly and as the operator they have played a key role in establishing rail as an important way of travelling around the region. AT looks forward to continuing its’ relationship with Transdev who is also the operator of Howick and Eastern Buses.

Key Performance Measures under the new contract include:

Service Reliability KPI
The Service Reliability KPI is designed to incentivise the Franchisee to run all train services on time as well as meeting other operational requirements. Key sub-components of assessment include whether or not the service departs from the correct origin, reaches its
destination, supplies the correct capacity, and stops at all scheduled stops.

Weightings for Peak services applied.

A full or partial reliability failure will be assigned if any of the following occur:
• Failure to start a scheduled service;
• A scheduled service not reaching its scheduled destination;
• A schedule service does not meet the minimum consist requirements (partial weighting);
• A service arriving greater than 10 minutes later than its scheduled arrival time at destination; and
• A scheduled service skipping any timetabled stop (partial weighting).

Punctuality KPI
The Service Punctuality KPI is designed to incentivise the Franchisee to operate the passenger rail services in a punctual manner. Key sub-components of assessment include whether or not the service adheres to its scheduled departure time from origin, arrival time at its final destination, and departure time from key intermediate stations.

A service will be deemed to be on time if it meets all of the following:
• Has not incurred a reliability failure;
• Departs its origin station between -0/+4m59s of its scheduled departure time;
• Departs all intermediate timing points between -0/+4m59s of its scheduled departure time; and
• Arrives at its final destination no later than 4m 59s after the scheduled arrival time.

Customer Satisfaction KPI
The Customer Satisfaction KPI will centre on the results achieved in the Customer Satisfaction Surveys undertaken by AT. The Franchisee will be assessed against their performance in relation to the rail components of the survey.

Performance to be assessed against the following questions (PIs) from the Customer Satisfaction Survey:

Station Presentation
• Overall station satisfaction
• Station cleanliness
• Station safety

Rolling Stock Presentation
• Overall rolling stock satisfaction
• Train interior cleanliness
• Train exterior cleanliness

Operational Performance
• Overall service satisfaction