'New Intercity Fleet' Contract

I am placing on the table, for the benefit of members, an article from today's Blue Mountains Gazette which is my source for the information in my statement today.

Yet again I find myself in this Chamber with a bundle of notes in front of me about the ongoing farce unfolding within the New South Wales Government that is its mishandling of the New South Wales intercity fleet procurement project.

Members of the New South Wales Labor Opposition stood here yesterday and gave notice of motion after motion calling on this Government to reconsider its decision to offshore the new intercity fleet. It is a decision that will cost over 1,200 jobs.

At a time when Liberals from Macquarie Street to Canberra are parroting the "jobs and growth" mantra, this Government is more interested in sending those jobs overseas.

This week the Blue Mountains Gazette lays out its independent research about the very poor record of Hyundai Rotem, the Berejiklian Government's South Korean train builder.

In February 2015, a train collided with a stationary vehicle on a level crossing. This had the tragic consequence of killing the train's engineer. A confidential report, cited in the Los Angeles Times, revealed that Hyundai Rotem had failed to meet design specifications provided to it by the government railway operator.

In particular, deflectors at the front of the train that were designed to protect it from derailing in the event of a collision, such as at a level crossing, were found to be unable to withstand the required forces. There was evidence of poor welding and casting flaws that introduced weaknesses to the failed components.

The same manufacturer, Hyundai Rotem, is also responsible for building trains for the public transport network in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, which have been withdrawn from service due to the widespread failure of structural components—caused, yet again, by poor quality work and bad welding.

The people of New South Wales deserve better than this. We need to be absolutely sure of the quality, safety and reliability of the new intercity fleet.

It is very difficult to trust the assurances of this Government when it comes to these new trains, though. On the one hand they say, "Trust us", but the evidence from overseas tells us that the manufacturer cannot be trusted. The evidence also tells us that this Government does not actually know what it is doing and that it is making up the details on this project as it goes along.

It is now very well known in this Parliament and throughout the community that these new trains do not fit the tracks in the Blue Mountains. It is impossible for these new trains to squeeze past each other around tight bends or through the tunnels along the Blue Mountains line west of Springwood.

So, when I put in a Freedom of Information request asking to see what planning works had been undertaken and for a list of the upgrades required along the line to make these trains fit past Springwood station, I fully expected to receive a significant volume of information.

Instead I received a very brief document which read more like a ministerial press release than anything else. But what it said was very telling. It said:

We are currently finalising where modifications need to be made and starting the design process. Work could include minor track work, changes to signals, platform modifications ...

….Blah Blah Blah…

This is a very wordy way of saying, "We don't know."

This Government has no idea where the work needs to be done, no idea how much it will cost, and no idea how long it will take. It cannot tell us how long the Blue Mountains line will be closed while these works are done, and the reason the Government cannot tell us anything is that it is making it up as it goes along.

If it had been the intention all along, as the Minister has tried to claim, that these trains would go all the way to Lithgow, then these investigations and plans would have been well underway.

At this rate, though, the first of these unsafe, poorly built trains will be arriving on a boat from South Korea in 2019—and they will still not fit past Springwood. Blue Mountains commuters will be stuck with the old trains while this hopeless Liberal State Government works out how to use a measuring tape. It beggars belief.

I call on the Government to call in this contract, I call on the Minister to admit that this project has been a fiasco from the start, and I call on the Premier to admit that she made the wrong call back in 2014 when she set this fat train in motion.

Let us get local experts in to design and build a train that fits the tracks, that is of a high quality, and that will keep local workers in jobs.

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