Benefits in the areas of cost, appearance and durability were the key factors in the NSW State Rail Authority's decision to specify stainless steel for the construction of a fleet of new passenger trains to be delivered over the next five years.
United Goninan, a leading designer and manufacturer of railway rolling stock based in Newcastle, has been chosen to design and manufacture 161 double deck electric multiple unit (EMU) passenger cars over three stages.
Stage 1, to be completed in 2006, comprises 41 cars, with 80 to be delivered the following year and a further 40 cars the year after. The total value of the contract comes to $450 million.
The new rail car builds on the knowledge United Goninan has amassed using stainless steel in over 800 cars to date. It combines the maintenance advantages and modern styling of its previous flagship model, Tangara, with new crashworthiness requirements.
Tangara has been acknowledged as a worldclass doubledeck electric multiple unit. When it was designed for the same client in the mid-80s, the 450 car contract was the largest ever let in Australia for rolling stock. The minimal maintenance requirements experienced during the service life of these vehicles have been due to durability of stainless steel.
The new cars will be deployed in Sydney and on outer suburban routes in Wyong and Penrith. They will be built according to new crashworthiness requirements which involve specialised construction techniques with stainless steel to create 'crumple zones' to maximise safety in the event of a head-on collision.
Each car body structure will utilise over 11 tonnes of grade 301LT/ST/MT stainless steel sheet, in thicknesses varying between 0.8 and 5mm depending on the component, with 2B and DULL surface finishes. Together the three stages will consume 1800 tonnes of stainless steel worth around $10 million.
The new car's design is sleek and modern. To this end, United Goninan has developed a patented system for spot welding to give the exposed sheeting superior aesthetic appearance.
This article featured in Australian Stainless magazine - Issue 24, March 2003.