VIVENDI-backed consortium Melbourne Transportation Enterprises confirmed on November 22 that it had awarded a contract to Alstom Transport to provide 58 new three-car EMUs for its Hillside Trains suburban franchise in the Victorian capital. Under the 900m euros package, Alstom will also refurbish 45 existing EMUs, and maintain the entire fleet for the next 15 years. The company will also be responsible for modernising the signalling on the 240 track-km network.

As a partner in the MTE consortium, Alstom has agreed with the Victorian government to take over the former V/Line workshops at Ballarat and Hillside, which together employ 550 staff. Ballarat will be responsible for the EMU refurbishment programme, and for commissioning of the new trains. Hillside will be the principal depot for day-to-day maintenance of the MTE fleet.

Under the terms of the 15-year franchise awarded in July, MTE pledged to invest A$314m in new trains and A$75m on the refurbishment programme. The first of the new units is due to enter service in mid-2002. They will be a version of Alstom’s X’trapolis modular suburban EMU.