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Why is the light rail going to cost so much?

By johnboy - 23 May 2012 52

The Greens are asking just why the ACT Government thinks it’s going to cost the best part of a billion dollars to join Gungahlin and Civic with 13 odd kilometres of light rail.

ACT Greens Transport spokesperson, Amanda Bresnan MLA, has questioned the Government’s commitment to light rail, and called on the Government to release the costing details for the Civic to Gungahlin light rail project.

The call has been echoed by others, including Bryan Nye, CEO of the Australasian Railway Association, who criticised the proposed $700m-$890m price tag as ‘exorbitant’ and said it ‘does not seem sensible’.

“The ACT Greens believe light rail would be a transformational project for Canberra, helping to solve our transport problems, attracting business and tourism, and building us into a successful and sustainable 21st century capital,” Ms Bresnan said.

“We want to see light rail given genuine consideration. We’ve heard the Government talk about light rail so many times before – especially at election time – only to then find excuses for it to fall off the agenda.

“The Greens support the call for the Government to release the full data it used to come up with these high light rail costs.

“I also challenge Simon Corbell’s claims that questioning these costs is somehow a ‘conspiracy theory’. The proposed costs have grown by approximately 400% since the 2008 costs done by Treasury and PriceWaterhouseCoopers. They are also double or triple the costs for other light rail systems being built around the world.

Let us consider for a moment the Alice Springs to Darwin Railway built in 2000 consisting of:

    –1420 km
    — 6 major bridges crossing the Katherine, Elizabeth, Adelaide, Cullen, Fergusson and Edith rivers[8]
    — 87 minor bridges
    — 1,500 culverts[9]
    — 145,000 tonnes of rail[9]
    — 2.8 million tonnes of ballast
    — 2 million sleepers
    — 8 million sleeper fastenings

Cost? according to the ABS $1.2 billion.


UPDATE 24/05/12 09:36: Simon Corbell has hit back:

Responding to claims that the initial cost estimate of $700 – $860 million for the project, were overinflated, Mr Corbell said the assessment was based on detailed comparisons with similar projects nationally and internationally.

“The initial project cost estimate has been developed by URS Australia, a respected international engineering consultancy, experienced in large-scale infrastructure projects,” Mr Corbell said.

“Costs were benchmarked by URS against the Constitution Avenue Upgrade Project (ACT), Gold Coast Light Rail Project, and the Melbourne Hoddle Street Planning Study. Further reference and benchmarking was undertaken using data from Rawlinson’s Australian Construction Handbook 2010,” Mr Corbell said.

“The estimates were also developed using information obtained from the Federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional, Development and Local Government – Best Practice Cost Estimation for Publicly Funded Road and Rail Construction, 2008.

“Those who criticise the initial costs estimate should remember that the Government has been very clear that these are early cost estimates subject to further assessment and detailed analysis.

What’s Your opinion?


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52 Responses to
Why is the light rail going to cost so much?
goggles13 5:43 pm 23 May 12

sorry but I don’t believe the cost justifies having light rail…..how long will it take the Govt to recoup the cost, or is it being built as an investment?

Thumper 5:35 pm 23 May 12

The government is talking light rail once again?

Must be an election coming up.

Ain’t ever going to happen kiddies.

dpm 5:03 pm 23 May 12

My guess is because they costed in the ‘contingency factor’ related to the ACT govt managing the project. GDE, Cotter dam anyone? Let’s face it, they probably need to multiply that by a further 1.2!

Keijidosha 4:59 pm 23 May 12

Sandman said :

Darwin to Alice railway didn’t use Canberran Contractors though did they?

Quoted for truth. If you need an example, Govt contractors have been plodding along building an accessibility (disabled) ramp at the Belconnen Community Bus Station for 9 months so far, and there is seemingly no end in sight. Comparitively it took only 14 months to build Lena Karmel lodge (the monsterous new ANU residences on Marcus Clarke Street/Barry Drive).

trevar 4:53 pm 23 May 12

Great comparison.

This is the first time I’ve become aware of the fact that I tend to ignore the pricing of public infrastructure. If the price exceeds a few million, I don’t have much of a way of making comparisons, so I just ignore the number… I wonder how often the pollies play on this?

p1 4:34 pm 23 May 12

SnapperJack said :

The problem with light rail and p1’s suggestion of a monorail for Canberra is the convenience aspect. It won’t come to your door or take you where you want to go without a whole lot of walking. I know I’m probably exposing myself to a whole lot of abuse about being lazy and an environmental traitor but until there is a low-cost public transport option allowing me to go directly from point A to point B without having to go through all the other letters in the alphabet I will continue to use my car.

Sooo, are you suggesting that every foot path in Canberra be converted to a travelator?

James_ 4:15 pm 23 May 12

Working in Woden and Living in Higgins takes me around 1 and a half hours if im lucky to get work Maybe 2 via public transport according to ACTION’s new timetable. Untill there is something even remotely comparable ill be using personal transport that takes me 30 mins through the public service 500.

Bosworth 3:46 pm 23 May 12

Why are we bothering with light rail for trunk routes, when buses currently travel every 5 mins (during peak times)?

Ben_Dover 3:36 pm 23 May 12

The ACT Greens believe light rail would be a transformational project for Canberra, helping to solve our transport problems.

Yep, when I want to get from Aranda to Tuggeranong for work, that light rail will solve all my problems.

Won’t it?

SnapperJack 3:30 pm 23 May 12

p1 said :

Cheap said :

What about the cost of acquiring land, putting rail lines through existing streets, diversions etc etc? Laying a straight track through the desert is a lot cheaper than through a city.

Then again, 1.2 bills to go 1,500km versus 0.9 bills to go 13km…

You know how we can avoid needing level crossings and the like? That’s right, monorail!

The problem with light rail and p1’s suggestion of a monorail for Canberra is the convenience aspect. It won’t come to your door or take you where you want to go without a whole lot of walking. I know I’m probably exposing myself to a whole lot of abuse about being lazy and an environmental traitor but until there is a low-cost public transport option allowing me to go directly from point A to point B without having to go through all the other letters in the alphabet I will continue to use my car.

p1 2:30 pm 23 May 12

Cheap said :

What about the cost of acquiring land, putting rail lines through existing streets, diversions etc etc? Laying a straight track through the desert is a lot cheaper than through a city.

Then again, 1.2 bills to go 1,500km versus 0.9 bills to go 13km…

You know how we can avoid needing level crossings and the like? That’s right, monorail!

Cheap 1:58 pm 23 May 12

What about the cost of acquiring land, putting rail lines through existing streets, diversions etc etc? Laying a straight track through the desert is a lot cheaper than through a city.

Then again, 1.2 bills to go 1,500km versus 0.9 bills to go 13km…

eh_steve 12:30 pm 23 May 12

Hard to use a 12 year old project in the desert as a guide. Let us also consider the $140 million the Victorian Government spent removing one level crossing.

This entry is interesting, http://melbpt.wordpress.com/tram-construction-costs/. While extensions are going to be cheaper than new projects that would require new trams, staff, depots, tram lines, suitable power, the average per kilometre costs are in the order of $10.8 million per kilometre.

Sandman 12:04 pm 23 May 12

Darwin to Alice railway didn’t use Canberran Contractors though did they?

aidan 12:01 pm 23 May 12

Nice comparison JB. Something fishy and no mistake.

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