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

Ian Bushnell 13 May 2019 76

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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76 Responses to Light rail may have been a little late but the final bill is less than expected
Julie Maynard Julie Maynard 9:02 pm 14 May 19

Well done!

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?

Lyndon Zoukowski Lyndon Zoukowski 10:12 pm 13 May 19

Enjoy your free travel

    Jodie SB Jodie SB 9:32 pm 14 May 19

    Lyndon Zouk You realise there are no buses to the city, everyone who use to catch a bus will have no choice but to catch the tram. It’ll be well used even when it’s not free.

    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.

Brad Adams Brad Adams 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...

    Jodie SB Jodie SB 9:29 pm 14 May 19

    Francisco Antonio Vega They’ve built a women’s hospital, upgraded the ER and started Renovations on the wards, so they’ve done nothing right?

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

    Rob Smith Rob Smith 2:13 pm 13 May 19

    Leo Low just read treasury figures it’s there

    Leo Low Leo Low 5:06 pm 13 May 19

    Rob Smith I believe it's up to you to provide the evidence for your own lies.

    Gerard Dwyer Gerard Dwyer 11:05 pm 13 May 19

    A white elephant that is full of people?

    Rob Smith Rob Smith 8:34 am 14 May 19

    Low not up to me to educate you !!!

    Jodie SB Jodie SB 9:27 pm 14 May 19

    Rob Smith The sky is purple with pink polka dots, I have no proof but it’s not up to me to educate you...

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.

William William William William 12:33 pm 13 May 19

as miz fitzharris pockets the $32,000,000. that could of helper the incovience the passengers that now sit home as there is no tranport for them any more $$$ Miz fitzharris bank account as the inconvienced passengers that are nolonger with a service as no one i now supported barr boycotted the eletrition go in have name crossed off walked out ever person i know or spoken too did this

Lucian Burca Lucian Burca 11:51 am 13 May 19

Wow, that's quite an achievement, if it was back in Romania it would have costed so far double, and it would have been done only the foundation of the rails, no reinforcement or concrete yet...

Annie Andcooper Pike Annie Andcooper Pike 11:45 am 13 May 19

Saved $$$ can now be used to repair Northbourne Ave back to a respectable state?

    LJ Tas LJ Tas 7:57 am 14 May 19

    Annie Andcooper Pike it's actually looking pretty nice now? I saw the full length in both directions yesterday, it's really really close to done.

Ryan Daniel Ryan Daniel 11:34 am 13 May 19

I think it’s actually cheaper because it’s late. Not in spite of it. I heard that the contracts were well written for once, such that any lateness of delivery incurred a financial penalty. They should do this in future for the roads as well.

    Michael Egan Michael Egan 11:39 am 13 May 19

    Ryan Daniel same as court contracts, public private partnership.

    If the contractors don't deliver on time they're heavily penalised

Amanda Evans Amanda Evans 11:03 am 13 May 19

Some left over for Canberra Hospital ...and our street trees maybe?

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 12:38 pm 13 May 19

    I'm all for health spending, but our hospitals are the best funded in Australia, so clearly the problems they have there are probably not funding related and perhaps how the money is being spent.

    Francisco Antonio Vega Francisco Antonio Vega 1:04 am 14 May 19

    Um no just look how understaffed they are and how nurses are run off their feet... Obviously you haven't been a patient there or if you have not for a long period.

    Margaret Welsh Margaret Welsh 9:42 am 14 May 19

    Francisco, I agree that the hospitals are understaffed and the nurses run off their feet. That just highlights what Justin said. Where is the money going? Our hospitals in the ACT get more funding than elsewhere in Australia. There is no excuse for understaffing. Perhaps all hospitals are under funded. I know that the Commonwealth contribution to health funding has reduced in real terms.

James Daniels James Daniels 10:58 am 13 May 19

So where does that saving come into play for the ACT taxpayer? Is the up front lump sum payment of $375m reduced or does it come from the ongoing payments?

    Justin Watson Justin Watson 12:45 pm 13 May 19

    The construction cost is under budget. the running costs are $300 odd million over 20 years, which is where the total cost of ~1 billion comes from.

    James Daniels James Daniels 12:53 pm 13 May 19

    Justin Watson thanks but that doesn't answer the question. My understanding was the lump sum payment once it was operational was $375m and then there were availability payments averaging $60-70m p.a. for 20 years, being part interest on the construction cost and part operating subsidy. My question still stands as to where the saving to the taxpayer arises. Is there a reduced lump sum payment or are the availability payments reduced?

D.c. Haas D.c. Haas 10:46 am 13 May 19

Outstanding result and vindication for the supporters of light rail 🚊👍 We must get started on stages two and three as soon as possible 😃

    Trish Roberts Trish Roberts 1:46 pm 13 May 19

    Not everyone agrees. My useful bus from Civic to my family in Palmerston no longer exists. As an older person with health issues, no car (because I USED to believe in public transport), my transport routes are reduced to about 25% of what they used to be.

    D.c. Haas D.c. Haas 2:37 pm 13 May 19

    Trish Roberts you now have these options 👍 Services to Palmerston have not been reduced 🚌

    John Denison John Denison 5:18 am 14 May 19

    Trish Roberts Good for RiotACT, over on this side of the planet, CrossRail which goes under London has gone way over budget and is very over due.

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