MINISTER for Transport Services in New South Wales Michael Costa announced on May 3 that the state government had deferred indefinitely a decision to buy a planned third tranche of 60 Millennium EMU cars from EDI Rail (RG 9.03 p525).

An entirely new ’simpler and cheaper’ design is apparently in prospect, as Costa believed ’one of the major problems affecting ... reliability was its complexity’. The 60 cars are likely to be added to the planned contract for 498 vehicles to replace the remaining cars in the CityRail fleet without air-conditioning (RG 5.04 p253). Costa said expressions of interest for a ’steady fleet purchasing programme’ would be invited by the end of May.

Downer EDI Managing Director Stephen Gillies said the company was ’well-placed to respond’, noting that after earlier problems the Millennium trains were now the most reliable in the fleet. Performance in April was one incident for 175000 km operated against a contractual requirement of no more than one per 60000 km. He refuted suggestions that EDI Rail had demanded a higher price for the third tranche of Millenium cars, noting that ’Railcorp had requested changes to the design’ to bring the specification into line with that for the 41 Outer Suburban Cars tendered in 2002.