The AMWU has hailed the Andrews Government’s announcement of 37 extra trains and extensive upgrades to Melbourne’s busiest rail line as a much-needed shot in the arm for manufacturing industry.
The decision to include at least 50 per cent local content in the new trains plus four new stations, signaling upgrades and removal of all level crossings on the Cranbourne-Pakenham line is expected to create new manufacturing work over the next decade.
AMWU Assistant State Secretary Craig Kelly said that should mean hundreds of skilled manufacturing jobs, just as the industry faced downturns in auto and aluminium.
The boost to industry confidence vindicated our members who had championed rail manufacturing during the 2014 state election and drew commitments which the Andrews Government may now exceed.
“This is terrific news, a tribute to our members’ efforts and resulting in the 37 trains with 296 carriages plus major rail infrastructure,” Mr Kelly said.
“As the Premier has priorisited local content, we urge train manufacturers and associated businesses in Victoria tendering for these contracts to raise the bar well beyond the 50 per cent minimum to improve their chances.”
Mr Kelly also welcomed planning for a new train depot and rail maintenance facility at Pakenham which will provide extra permanent work for AMWU members to service the new fleet of high- capacity, 8-car trains.
“The Government's commitment to use Australian steel on the level crossing upgrades should also extend to new signalling and construction of new and upgraded stations,” he said.
He said it was a big morale boost to manufacturing workers that the Andrews Government had scrapped the previous Napthine Government’s proposal to upgrade the line with a private partnership, that included 25 new trains built mainly overseas.
“This is a bigger, better proposal based on putting Victorian taxpayers money back into jobs in their own state,” he said.
The 37 new trains comes on top of the 50 country and suburban trains that Labor already committed to during the election campaign, after consultations with the AMWU.
Earlier this month the Andrews Government announced the first five of those 50 new trains would be assembled by the Alstom workshop at Ballarat, in a deal worth up to $90 million.
AMWU National Rail Coordinator Finbarr Dowling emphasised the opportunities to create new apprenticeships, as Alstom and Downer EDI were among local rail industry shops with opportunities to expand.
Lack of apprenticeships was a key concern of AMWU rail delegates and officials from Western Australia, South Australia and Victoria who met in Melbourne recently to plan strategy.