Features, Local Manufacturing, Manufacturing, New South Wales

Sovereign rail manufacturing in sight

In good news for Australia’s rail manufacturing industry, the NSW Government will spend billions of dollars to replace the Tangara fleet of suburban passenger trains, with a 50 per cent of domestic manufacturing target.

This target, however, could easily be higher, according to Industry Capability Network (ICN) NSW Advanced Manufacturing Manager, Marcus Batten.

According to Marcus Australia has the sovereign capacity to build all of the trains if it so desires.

“We shouldn’t be satisfied with 50%, we could aspire to 80% over time,” he said.

The 55 8-car trains of the Tangara fleet, currently about a quarter of Sydney Trains’ suburban passenger fleet, began operating in the late 1980s and are due to be retired by 2027.

The replacement fleet will be the first in a long-term pipeline of locally built trains that extends out to the 2050s.

In July 2023, the NSW and Federal Government’s held a roundtable discussion on the future of rail manufacturing.

In a press release about the discussion, Assistant Federal Minister for Manufacturing Senator Tim Ayres said NSW was heading in the right direction.

“We want trains and rollingstock that are built and designed in Australia for Australian conditions,” he said.

NSW Premier Chris Minns said the roundtable was “a critical first step on the path to our commitment to build the next generation of trains that replace the Tangaras here in NSW”.

“We make some of the best trains in the world. This important work will give our companies and workers the best chance to compete with their overseas rivals.

Transport for NSW is currently working with ICN NSW to map the supply chain, using Gateway, ICN’s procurement platform. This will help uncover the scale of the opportunity for rail manufacturers in NSW specifically, and across Australia and New Zealand more broadly.

Other NSW train fleets will also need replacing through the 2040s and 2050s, which means Transport for NSW and Sydney Trains are looking to establish a sustainable rolling stock manufacturing pipeline and foster collaboration across the supply chain. These projects will continue to unlock new opportunities for local rail manufacturing businesses.

Companies interested in getting involved should create an expression of interest on Gateway by ICN or contact a consultant at their local ICN office, who can point them towards like-minded parties to bid as a group

“What we did for Future Fleet is build 47 work packages that people can put expressions of interest in against,” Marcus said, adding that small businesses could bid as a cluster with ICN’s support.

He said that while the government was currently focused on trains, it would be an opportunity to get in front of Transport for NSW for other opportunities.

Find out more, or submit an expression of interest, on the Future Fleet Gateway page.

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