The ACT Government and the successful light rail consortium, Canberra Metro, yesterday signed contracts for stage one of the project and confirmed that construction on the Gungahlin to City route will commence next month.
At a media event to announce the signing, Minister for Capital Metro Simon Corbell unveiled an upgraded plan for the Alinga St terminus and provided details on a new square to be developed in the centre of Northbourne Avenue between the Sydney and Melbourne buildings.
“After nearly 100 years of debate and controversy over the development of urban rail for our city, the ACT Government has entered into a contract with Canberra Metro consortium for the delivery of light rail in our city,” Mr Corbell said.
“I’m very pleased to say that today we’re announcing a number of key enhancements on the delivery of this project. The first will be the creation of a fantastic new city plaza right here on the median strip between the Sydney and Melbourne buildings. These are two of the ACT’s most iconic and heritage listed buildings and it’s critically important that we improve the quality of this vital public space.
“Secondly, the government has negotiated the delivery of an enhanced terminal design for the Alinga Street terminus in the location behind me. The enhancement of the Alinga Street terminus is critically important because it will be a key meeting place and focal point for public transport in our city.
“The government has also negotiated some very exciting enhancements to all of the stops along the route, that will deliver enhanced LED lighting design, which will be world class …”
With Can the Tram protesters standing in the background, Mr Corbell said initial works would commence in June with substantive works commencing in August.
He said over the 20 years of the contract the annual availability payment, which includes operational costs such as electricity, drivers and maintenance as well as construction costs, would be approximately $48m in the first 12 months of operations and finish at approximately $75m for the last 12 months of the contract term in 2038, with an average annual availability payment of approximately $64m.
“Over its 20 year operations period this contract will account for less than 1 per cent of ACT Government expenditure,” the Minister said.
“The Australian Government has also demonstrated its support by increasing its contribution to the project to $67 million.”
The contract’s capital cost would be approximately $710 million, less than the cost originally estimated in the business case for the project. This cost would be finalised when financial close for the project is reached in the coming weeks.
The ACT Government would be making a capital contribution of $375m towards the project in 2018-19. This $375m was funded from the sale of assets – such as ACTTAB, ageing public housing and ACT Government office accommodation – and included a 15% bonus from the Commonwealth as part of the Asset Recycling Initiative.
Figures for availability payments exclude territory contingency amounts and were approximate until the project reached financial close in the coming weeks.