High Capacity Metro Trains

The High Capacity Metro Train (HCMT) is a type of electric multiple unit (EMU) train for use by Metro Trains Melbourne on the Melbourne rail network. The first train set entered service on 27 December 2020 and will become the primary rolling stock used in the Metro Tunnel when it opens in 2025. The HCMTs carry around 1,400 passengers in seven carriages, running on Melbourne's 1,500 V DC overhead catenary system, and are currently the most advanced trains in the Metro Trains fleet. A consortium of investors and rail companies are constructing the trains in China and Australia via a contract with the Victorian Government, in addition to upgrade works necessary for the operation of the trains.

High Capacity Metro Trains
HCMT set 908 undergoing testing on the Werribee line at Seddon
In service2020–present
ManufacturerDowner Rail
CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles
Built atChangchun, China
Newport Workshops (final assembly)
ReplacedComeng (projected)
Entered service27 December 2020 (2020-12-27)
Number under construction35
Number built30
Formation7 car sets
Fleet numbers901-965
Capacity1,380 (gross train capacity)[1]
1,800 (crush)[2]
Operator(s)Metro Trains Melbourne
Depot(s)Pakenham East
Calder Park
Line(s) servedPakenham (on introduction)
Sunbury (after Metro Tunnel opening)
Airport (starts 2029)[3]
Train length160.2 m (525 ft 7+116 in)[4]
Car length24.648 m (80 ft 10+38 in) (Tc)
22.18 m (72 ft 9+14 in) (DMp, Mp1, DT, Mp2)
Width3,040 mm (9 ft 11+1116 in)
Height4,186 mm (13 ft 8+1316 in)
Floor height1,170 mm (46 in)
Doors6 per carriage, 3 per side[5]
Maximum speed130 km/h (81 mph)
Weight316.9 tonnes (311.9 long tons)
Traction systemIGBT-VVVF (Zhuzhou CRRC Times Electric)
Traction motors3-phase AC induction motor (ABB)
Electric system(s)1,500 V DC and 3 kV DC, both OHLE
Current collection methodPantograph
Coupling systemDellner
Track gauge1,600 mm (5 ft 3 in)



The previous major procurement of rolling stock for the Melbourne rail network occurred in 2002, when franchisees M>Train and Connex ordered 62 Siemens Nexas and 58 X'Trapolis 100 trains respectively, as part of their franchise agreements to replace the older Hitachi trains.[6][7] However, the Siemens units suffered major braking issues over the following decade, causing their repeated withdrawal from service;[8] when the State Government tendered for 18 further six-carriage trains in 2007, it restricted bids to the previous two models ordered and awarded the contract to Alstom.[9] Several further orders were placed for X'Trapolis trains over the next 10 years.

The Public Transport Development Authority (later branded as Public Transport Victoria) was created in 2011 by the newly-elected state government of Premier Ted Baillieu with the intent of, among other things, running major studies into the operation of the metropolitan rail network.[10] The Network Development Plan Metropolitan Rail (NDPMR), released publicly in early 2013 in the partial fulfillment of this objective, was designed as a series of concrete proposals for the expansion and consolidation of the rail network over the following 20 years.[11] The NDPMR's first stage, intended to be completed before 2016, acknowledged the need for an interim solution of several more X'Trapolis trains to overcome major constraints,[12] as well as recommending the internal reconfiguration of Siemens and Comeng trains to increase capacity,[13] but identified the provision of new rolling stock as critical to the cost-effective use of existing railway infrastructure.[14]

Among the deficiencies of existing rolling stock noted by the NDPMR were "multi-purpose" designs intended to strike a balance between commuter rail and metro operations, and the failure of existing trains to use the entire length of metropolitan platforms.[14] The NDPMR rejected double-deck trains on the basis that they would increase dwell time at crowded stations, and argued that 220 metre trains, formed by operating the existing three car sets as nine car trains, would require extensive and prohibitively expensive infrastructure works, particularly in the City Loop. Instead, it recommended the procurement of single-level trains with a fixed number of cars, increased standing room and a length of 153 metres (502 ft), with the capacity for expansion to 220 m (720 ft) upon the opening of the Melbourne Metro tunnel. The NDPMR envisaged these trains with a maximum capacity of 1,100 and 1,600 passengers respectively.[15]

The NDPMR envisaged that these high-capacity trains would completely replace the Comeng fleet by 2032, and be used primarily on the SunshineDandenong line created by the Melbourne Metro. Furthermore, it identified the need for the new trains to include cab signalling to reduce the headway required between trains, and for the construction of new maintenance facilities at several points on the network.[16]

Prior to the 2014 Victorian election, then-Premier Denis Napthine promised an order of 25 of the proposed high-capacity trains if his incumbent Liberal-National Coalition government was returned for a second term.[17]

Order and design phaseEdit

In June 2015, the new Labor Victorian Government under Premier Daniel Andrews announced that expressions of interest would be requested for 37 new trains to be delivered and maintained for the Melbourne rail network.[18]

In November 2015, three consortia were shortlisted to build and maintain 37 trains:[19]

In March 2016, the order was increased to 65.[20]

In September 2016, the contract was awarded to the Evolution Rail consortium. New depots to maintain the trains will be built in Pakenham East and Calder Park.[21][22] By September of the following year, a full-scale mock-up of two carriages had been constructed and was presented to Minister for Public Transport Jacinta Allan.[23] The mock-up was made available to drivers, technicians, representatives of the Public Transport Users Association and passenger groups including the visually impaired and those with physical disabilities. The Evolution Rail consortium noted that this last stage in the design process marked the fulfilment of the project's first major contractual obligation.[24]

HCMT set 902 undergoing testing at Newport in January 2020

In late 2017, the Locomotive Division of the Victorian Rail Tram and Bus Union lodged proceedings in the Federal Court of Australia against Metro Trains, claiming that the consortium, government and Metro planned to introduce a lower standard of training for operators of the HCMT. It furthermore refused to support the implementation of the new rolling stock unless all electric train drivers were trained in the operation of the HCMT.[25] Among the union's objections to the project are the necessary changes in work practice and the increased automation of certain processes.[26] This followed criticism by the Australian Workers' Union of the decision to award the contract to Evolution Rail instead of Bombardier, the latter of which had an established manufacturing operation in Dandenong.[27] The government announced the awarding of several subcontracts for the project in December.[28]

The mockup carriages used for the consultation phase were placed on public display at Birrarung Marr from 9–17 February 2018. The display concluded during Melbourne's White Night event with a light show.[29]

By June of that year, manufacturing had commenced, with the first body shells arriving at Newport Workshops from CRRC's facility in China.[30]

The HCMTs were expected to begin testing in November 2018 and enter passenger service on the Cranbourne and Pakenham lines in 2019.[1] [31]

HCMT set 903 rising into Heatherdale returning from testing on the Belgrave line

The first revenue service for the HCMT was the 8:31am service from Pakenham on the Pakenham line on 27 December 2020. This was an extra service and regular timetabled services didn't commence until 31 January 2021, when the new PTV timetable was introduced.[32]

Contract and constructionEdit

The trains are being delivered as a public–private partnership (PPP) between the State of Victoria and Evolution Rail Pty Ltd, under the Partnerships Victoria agency. The initial contract specified that the consortium would be responsible for the design, construction and delivery of 65 trains, as well as the construction of a heavy maintenance facility and depot in Pakenham East, the construction of a light maintenance facility in Calder Park, and the provision of two simulators for driver training. It also stated that the consortium would be responsible for the maintenance of the HCMTs throughout their lifetime, as well as the operation and maintenance of the depots and simulators over the same time frame.[33]

Evolution Rail is a consortium composed of CRRC Changchun Railway Vehicles, Downer Rail and Plenary Group.[27]

Changchun Railway Vehicles (CRRC) is leading the development and design for the HCMTs, and is manufacturing the train bodies as a joint venture with Downer Rail. 60% of construction is "local content" from a Victorian manufacturing supply chain. Downer leads the delivery and maintenance of the sets, as well as the construction of the new rail yard facilities.[34] Frames for bogies will be manufactured by Hoffman Engineering in Bendigo.[35] The Australian arm of Times Electric is manufacturing the traction motors and other electrical systems in Morwell, and SIGMA Air Conditioning is building the heating and cooling systems in Derrimut.[28] Assembly of wheel sets and bogies is being performed by Downer at Newport Workshops. Plenary Group is responsible for the financial management of the project, and the debt is financed by a group of investment banks led by Westpac.[36]

The contract did not prescribe specific design elements of the HCMTs, but required that the design fulfil a number of objectives, centred on the provision of a "safe and comfortable journey for passengers".[37]

The total value of the PPP is around $2.3 billion.[26]


Interior of HCMT in service, showing PIDs and fold down seating.

The HCMT are based on the Type A design used by Changchun Railway Vehicles.[24] The trains will have seven carriages initially, with a total passenger capacity of 1,380.[1] However, provision will be made for the trains to be extended to 10 carriages for a capacity of more than 1,970.[38] An aerodynamic nose cone and retractable cover for the couplers at each end of the trains has been designed to reduce the incidence of train surfing when the HCMTs are in operation.[39]

HCMT set 909 at Carnegie

Approximately 30–40% of passengers will be seated when the train is at full capacity. The standing areas of the train will offer multiple types of straps and handles for the safety of standing passengers, and wide doors for rapid ingress and egress from these areas. As well as 70 passenger information displays (PIDs) in each train, Wi-Fi connection will be available throughout the passenger areas.[40] The PIDs will show the next station, current time, and the train's location on an adapted rail map. Displays on the front and sides of the train will indicate its destination.[41] Twenty-eight wheelchair spaces and wide aisles between seats will enable easy access for passengers with disabilities.[1][38]

A number of semi-automated features will be implemented in the HCMT design, including the capacity for low-speed shunting by remote control and for trains to be started without a driver present. The trains will also automatically estimate the passenger load, and the reading can be accessed remotely.[38] Furthermore, the HCMTs will include "stopping aids" to improve the accuracy of train arrivals at platforms. Drivers will also have the capacity to open individual doors on the trains.[42]

HCMT rolling stock configuration[2]
Formation 1 2 3 4 5 6 7
Pantograph < < > >
Car type 90xx
Length (m) 24.648 22.18 22.18 22.18 22.18 22.18 24.648
Main electrical equipment Trailer Motor (1 sanded axle) Motor (2 sanded axles) Trailer Motor (2 sanded axles) Motor (1 sanded axle) Trailer
Other features Control cab Inter-car door Inter-car door Inter-car door Control cab
Weight (t) 46.634 45.068 46.111 41.332 46.111 45.068 46.634
Capacity 62 70 80 78 80 70 62
Numbers 9001


  1. ^ a b c d DEDJTR 2017, p. 9.
  2. ^ a b c "WTT NETWORK CONFIGURATION: METRO ROLLING STOCK" (PDF). Metro Trains Document Portal. Retrieved 10 February 2019.
  3. ^ "Melbourne Airport Rail Link construction to start 2022, trains to run to CBD every 10 minutes". Retrieved 23 December 2020.
  4. ^ "High Capacity Metro Trains Project". Transport for Victoria. Archived from the original on 9 February 2018.
  5. ^ "MelbourneTrains.Net - Learn - HCMT". Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  6. ^ "Siemens Transportation Systems wins major contract in Australia". Siemens Transportation Systems. Munich: Siemens AG. 1 April 2000. Archived from the original on 22 November 2005.
  7. ^ "X'Trapolis Welcomed To Melbourne's Railways". Media Release from the Minister for Public Transport. Department of Premier and Cabinet. 18 December 2002. Archived from the original on 17 July 2005.
  8. ^ Sexton, Reid (31 January 2010). "Siemens trains the biggest cause of rail delays". The Age. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  9. ^ "18 More Trains Ordered For Metropolitan Rail System". Media Release from the Minister for Public Transport. Department of Premier and Cabinet. 21 December 2007. Archived from the original on 19 October 2009.
  10. ^ Lucas, Clay (24 August 2011). "Comeback for Kennett-era transport chief". The Age. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  11. ^ Gough, Deborah (27 March 2013). "Major rail projects expected in 20 years". The Age. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  12. ^ NDPMR 2012, p. 7.
  13. ^ NDPMR 2012, p. 72.
  14. ^ a b NDPMR 2012, p. 34.
  15. ^ NDPMR 2012, p. 35.
  16. ^ NDPMR 2012, p. 137.
  17. ^ Dowling, Jason (6 March 2014). "Transport boost with 25 new trains for Cranbourne, Pakenham lines". The Age. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  18. ^ Preiss, Benjamin (29 June 2015). "Andrews government to spend $1.3b on high-capacity trains". The Age. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  19. ^ "Three shortlisted for Melbourne's High Capacity Metro Trains contract". Railway Gazette International. 13 November 2015. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  20. ^ "Melbourne high capacity train order increased". Railway Gazette International. 15 March 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  21. ^ "1,100 Jobs With 65 New Trains Built In Victoria, For Victoria". Premier of Victoria. 12 September 2016. Archived from the original on 29 November 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  22. ^ "Evolution Rail to supply Melbourne high capacity EMUs". Railway Gazette International. 12 September 2016. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  23. ^ "CRRC presents Melbourne EMU mock-up". Railway Gazette International. 7 September 2017. Retrieved 29 November 2017.
  24. ^ a b "High Capacity Metro Train mock-up supports design process". Railway Gazette International. 25 November 2017. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  25. ^ Marotta, Marc (September 2017). "Secretary's Report" (PDF). LocoLines (69). RTBU Victorian Locomotive Division. pp. 3–7. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  26. ^ a b Carey, Adam (12 June 2017). "Union signals rough ride for rollout of government's high-capacity trains". The Age. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  27. ^ a b Galloway, Anthony (24 August 2016). "Problems with trains of Chinese company bidding for Victorian contract". Herald Sun. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  28. ^ a b "Melbourne's Bigger Trains Creating Jobs Boom". Premier of Victoria. 5 December 2017. Archived from the original on 13 December 2017. Retrieved 13 December 2017.
  29. ^ "Melbourne, Meet Your New Train". Premier of Victoria. 7 February 2018. Retrieved 11 March 2018.
  30. ^ Loneragan, David (14 June 2018). "New high capacity trains being assembled in Melbourne – Rail Express". Rail Express. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  31. ^ "Twelve month delay for Melbourne's new $2.3 billion high-capacity trains". 9News Melbourne. 9 August 2019.
  32. ^ New services and new timetables Public Transport Victoria
  33. ^ DEDJTR 2017, p. 5.
  34. ^ "High Capacity Metro Trains" (PDF). Plenary Group. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  35. ^ Holmes, Adam (17 November 2017). "Hofmann Engineering sheds 15 staff in Bendigo". Bendigo Advertiser. Retrieved 20 November 2017.
  36. ^ DEDJTR 2017, p. 19.
  37. ^ DEDJTR 2017, p. 6.
  38. ^ a b c Carey, Adam (29 May 2017). "2000 people per train: Metro's standing room-only future revealed". The Age. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  39. ^ Lund, Andrew (28 August 2017). "New high-capacity trains to curb dangerous train surfing in Melbourne". 9 News. Retrieved 7 December 2017.
  40. ^ Tan, Steffanie (29 May 2017). "65 New High-Capacity Trains Will be Added to the Melbourne Network". Broadsheet. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  41. ^ "Inside Melbourne's new trains". Public Transport Users Association. Retrieved 30 November 2017.
  42. ^ DEDJTR 2017, p. 13.