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Hillside EMU shipped to Melbourne

01 Apr 2002

INTRO: Alstom's contract to supply 58 trainsets to Melbourne includes technology transfer to Australian suppliers

AT THE END OF February the mv Elansgracht set sail from the French port of La Rochelle bound for Melbourne. On board was the first of a fleet of 58 three-car trainsets destined for Melbourne's eastern and northeastern commuter routes, which are operated by Connex. Built at Aytré just outside La Rochelle, the EMU is part of Alstom's modular X'Trapolis 100 design family.

Due in Melbourne next month, the first set will be type tested for around four months. The delivery schedule calls for a six-car formation to be in commercial service by December 31, although Pat Kelly, General Manager, Technical, at Connex in Melbourne, hopes that this milestone will be reached in November.

A 15-year deal to run Melbourne's Hillside Trains franchise was secured in July 1999 by Melbourne Transport Enterprises, a partnership between CGEA Transport Asia Pacific Ltd, now Connex, and Alstom Australia. To manage the €900m contract Alstom set up a multi-disciplinary project management team in Aytré to handle finance, engineering, training and other work from a single office.

The contract includes the capital cost of the new trains, their maintenance over the life of the franchise, plus the maintenance and renovation in Ballarat of 90 Comeng-built three-car trainsets dating from the 1980s. The agreement also covers maintenance and upgrading of the infrastructure, including nine resignalling projects; the first of these will see the Clifton Hill line re-equipped with computer-based interlockings at a cost of A$6m.

Arrival of the new trains will permit the withdrawal of 58 three-car trains built by Martin & King in the 1970s to a Hitachi design.

Technology transfer

Recognising concerns about local industry, the Victorian government's Transport Reform Unit required Australian firms to be involved in the contract. The result was a significant element of technology transfer.

Under the terms agreed, the first two sets are to be fully manufactured in Aytré, where initial testing takes place. To permit trial running, Alstom added a third rail to its short factory test track to suit the 1600mm gauge. The following eight units are being mainly built in France but tested in Australia. Sets 11 to 58 will have bodyshells supplied from Aytré and bogies from Le Creusot, but fitting out will take place at Ballarat in the Melbourne suburbs.

Traction control equipment was designed at Alstom's British plant in Preston, where the initial packs were manufactured. Later batches will be put together in the Alstom factory at Milperra in the Sydney suburbs, although traction motors will be supplied from Ornans in France.

The auxiliary converters were designed at Charleroi in Belgium, where the initial batch was produced; supply will later transfer to Milperra.

Given a heavy workload at Aytré at present, Alstom has subcontracted the supply of several major component groups. Labinal, for example, is responsible for all the cabling, and the company is supplying complete wiring and cabling kits to Aytré, where its own staff carry out installation. All interior panelling, ceilings, air ducts and door pockets are the responsibility of Alcan, which supplies kits for Alstom staff to install. Both Labinal and Alcan have agreed to find their own subcontractors in Australia, and a number of other components will be furnished directly by Australian manufacturers.

The agreement also provides for Alstom to train Australian operating and maintenance staff.


Operating under 1·5 kV DC catenary, the sets have two end power cars enclosing a centre trailer with pantograph. Alstom is fitting an Onix 1500 traction package with an IGBT inverter supplying each set of four traction motors connected in parallel.

The bodyshells are assembled at Aytré with kits for complete bodysides furnished by an outside supplier. Panels are laid on a jig and the main structure formed of interlocking struts is then positioned before the assembly is welded together. The structure is designed to withstand an end loading of 600kJ; no pillars are needed round the door openings.

The underframe makes use of standard cross-beams with holes pre-cut for bolting on underfloor equipment, so eliminating the use of brackets. Alstom notes that this allows staff to work under a bodyshell supported by jacks without having to wear helmets. n

TABLE: Table I. Principal data of Hillside EMUs

Gauge mm 1600

Overall length mm 72600

Body width mm 3046

Floor height over rail top mm 1145

Bogie wheelbase mm 2200

Door opening mm 1300

Maximum speed km/h 130

Continuous motor rating kW 220

Acceleration m/s2 1·2

Highest axleload tonnes 16

Capacity seated 274

standing at 5m2 433

Power supply 1.5 kV DC

TABLE: Table II. Hillside EMU suppliers

Main contractor Alstom

Cabling Labinal

Interior fittings Alcan

Air-conditioning Thermo King

Doors Faiveley

Windows G James Safety Glass

Brake Equipment Knorr Bremse

Seats TRI

Pantographs Ausbreck Pty Ltd

Wheelsets Lucchini

CAPTION: Pat Kelly, General Manager, Technical, at Connex in Melbourne looks forward to the first train's arrival in Melbourne

CAPTION: Fig 1. Wide bodies offer plenty of space for standing passengers