Light rail may have been a little late but the final bill is less than expected

Ian Bushnell 13 May 2019 71

Passenger numbers for light rail are exceeding expectations. Photo: George Tsotsos.

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.

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.

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71 Responses to Light rail may have been a little late but the final bill is less than expected
maxblues maxblues 12:02 am 15 May 19

The final bill is still to come, as detailed in the ACT government’s own budget papers. Their own prediction is an eye-watering debt of $2.835 Billion by 2022. Where is the money going to come from?

Julie Maynard Julie Maynard 9:02 pm 14 May 19

Well done!

Alien Fiend Alien Fiend 12:50 pm 14 May 19

I’m amused by the bright signs on the front and back of the trams – “Alinga St Service” or “Gungahlin Place Service”. Seriously, where else could they possibly go?

Scott Welsh Scott Welsh 8:48 am 14 May 19

Good, so they’re lowering rates now then?

Nell Feneck Nell Feneck 7:55 am 14 May 19

Lies all lies

David Jackson David Jackson 7:07 am 14 May 19

And we honestly believe this?

bd84 bd84 11:31 pm 13 May 19

Final cost? There’s a fair amount of construction still going on. A deliberate early closing of the books?

Not to forget they still need to go back and build the stop at Mitchell. They’ll also need to fix the poor road design on Flemington Road at EPIC and Mitchell sooner rather than later.

bj_ACT bj_ACT 11:18 pm 13 May 19

How many public housing tenants were sent to the outer suburbs so their property footprint could be sold to private developers just to increase the Light Rail’s return on investment?

How many outer suburban bus commuters had to lose their stops to make it a faster commute for the lucky few near a Rapid route?

Mr Barr must be the most un-Labor leader in the country’s history. Take from the poor and give to the rich.

Capital Retro Capital Retro 11:03 pm 13 May 19

ACTEWAGL are still to release the amount they contributed by way of capital works for the tram.

I estimate it would be between $50 – $100 million but we will probably never know. They must be spending all those millions they have borrowed somewhere.

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 10:12 pm 13 May 19

Enjoy your free travel

    Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 9:48 pm 14 May 19

    Jodie Burns excellent! I'm just sick of people complaining about traveling when it's free. When U have to pay that's when will see the real numbers using the transport network

Ivan Peric Ivan Peric 10:04 pm 13 May 19

Don't worry about poverty

Brett Back-Crane Brett Back-Crane 7:16 pm 13 May 19

Hopefully they can use some of the remainder to fix the roads they've made such a mess of.

HiddenDragon HiddenDragon 7:04 pm 13 May 19

“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.”

Those of us who live nowhere near the current, or any likely future, tramline will be thrilled to see some of this bonanza of benefits quantified and reaped through a value capture tax on all those lucky homes and business along the route – that should help to keep annual rates rises to a slightly less terrifying level, and pay for some of the stuff that needs doing around the town.

Brad Moyo Brad Moyo 6:14 pm 13 May 19

Meanwhile how much money was waisted on NBN???

🤣 5G will wipe it out

Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 6:09 pm 13 May 19

Meanwhile Canberra hospital needs MAJOR improvements...

DJA DJA 6:02 pm 13 May 19

The table showing Actual costs under “Contingency” is misleading. Actual costs are against the base design and construction costs, leading to total of 675 in the first row.
“Contingency” is magic money used during planning to cost risk and risk treatments. That they had to dip into contingency is not good news; it means that [something unwanted] happened and they had to dip into the magic money (which does happen in the real world). Or, that [something unwanted] did not happen and the cost of the base design and construction over-ran due to poor forecasting of expected costs.
Bottom line is there is a degree of spin in the table and the figures provided. We will probably never know.

Leo Mastoris Leo Mastoris 5:00 pm 13 May 19

Hristo Vizovitis I told u

Chris Finnigan Chris Finnigan 3:27 pm 13 May 19

It’s cheap in the same way that originally making Gungahlin Drive Extension single lane was cheap: So we can ad hoc upgrade it in a few years.

It’s more expensive to do it this way of course and will cause heaps of unnecessary additional congestion when we do upgrade it, but it allows the Govt to postpone the hit on the budget in the short term.

Rob Smith Rob Smith 1:50 pm 13 May 19

Off course it reports being under budget when they transferred costs to other depts to cover up the real cost of this white elephant

Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 1:42 pm 13 May 19

By skipping useful stops like Mitchell.

    Gerard Dwyer Gerard Dwyer 11:04 pm 13 May 19

    Trish Roberts sadly lots of Michell businesses complained about it. While others wanted it. Looks like naysayers won. Hopefully Mitchell gets it built in the future.

    Pearl Hasher Pearl Hasher 5:03 am 14 May 19

    Trish Roberts not in our lifetime

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 5:59 am 14 May 19

    Gerard Dwyer Yes, Gerard, earlier this year I had to make 4 trips to Mitchell. I then expected there would be a stop. But no.

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