The final cost of building light rail Stage 1 between the city and Gungahlin has come in at $675 million – under budget by $32 million on the contract and $109 million on the original business case.
The contract with Canberra Metro for design and construction with a 2018 start was worth $707 million, compared with the business case estimate of $783 million and a 2019 start.
Stage 1 was due to be delivered by the end of December 2018 but did not start operating until Easter, four months later.
Chief Minister Andrew Barr said the final result was due to Government’s foresight to establish a dedicated project team with sound governance, talented leadership, motivated staff and expert advisers from across the country, and the project partner, Canberra Metro.
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He said Canberra Metro went above and beyond in delivering light rail, and, through CMET, continued to provide a high level of service as the light rail operator.
“The final result has verified the ACT Government’s commitment to delivering an affordable and sustainable light rail network for the city. Light rail is already proving incredibly popular, moving thousands of Canberrans every day and we’ve delivered it substantially under budget,” Mr Barr said.
He said the lower than anticipated cost meant the benefit-cost ratio would increase to at least 1.3, rather than the original, conservative estimate of 1.2.
“That means for every dollar invested, Canberrans get $1.30 back in benefits, including better transport, lower congestion, more jobs and the increasing value of homes and businesses along the route,” Mr Barr said.
Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said light rail was also beating the business case predictions on patronage, with passenger numbers already exceeding 2021 levels.
“Light rail is proving to be hugely popular already, with more people using it every day, and as a result we’ve added more frequent services during peak times to manage this demand,” she said.
“Along the light rail corridor the benefits are plain to see: with light rail getting people to work, opening up new customers to local businesses and seeing hundreds of Canberrans employed on building and construction projects along the alignment that are already using their proximity to light rail to attract buyers.”
Ms Fitzharris said Stage 1 saw around 5000 people work on the project, and the Government hoped to build on that industry knowledge as it continued planning for Stage Two to Woden, which is expected to cost about $1.6 billion.
“Indeed we are already funding early works to prepare the Woden interchange for the next stage of light rail,” she said.