End-of-trip charging facilities have also been improved, with permanent infrastructure to be brought forward in place of previously planned temporary solutions. The first charging station is being installed at Countess Street as part of a range of early works set to start this month.
Public transport committee chair Ryan Murphy said the improvements meant minor contract changes had been agreed to with HESS, but would be rolled into the existing project budget.
An initial $94 million had been budgeted for a diesel vehicle fleet out of concern the electric technology was not available. In late 2019, the council said it would pursue a battery-powered model at a higher upfront cost – offset by lower long-term maintenance and operating expenses – budgeted at $190 million.
During a budget information session in June, Cr Murphy said the council in fact had an additional $62 million set aside as contingency but the design, manufacturing and delivery costs were not expected to tip into that.
The contract changes are expected to reduce the contingency element of the budget while lifting the upfront cost.
“We are investing in these more advanced designs now as they will deliver an improved Brisbane Metro vehicle while reducing future risks around the electric-vehicle fleet and charging infrastructure,” Cr Murphy said.
“The vehicles and charging system are one of the most significant developments in the electric vehicle industry, worldwide, and this is the first vehicle of its kind in Australia, so we always anticipated the design process would be a journey with multiple developments.”
The pilot vehicle will be tested in Switzerland this year, before arriving in Brisbane for local testing in 2022. A gradual “soft launch” of the fleet is expected from late 2023 before key infrastructure including the Adelaide Street Tunnel is finalised in late 2024.
In June, Cr Schrinner said a successful 2032 Olympic bid could raise capacity concerns about the above-ground design for the Cultural Centre station, after “settling” on the option over earlier underground plans with the state government last year.
The council has committed $944 million of the project’s cost, with a so-far capped $300 million from the federal government.
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