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
— 87 minor bridges
— 1,500 culverts
— 145,000 tonnes of rail
— 2.8 million tonnes of ballast
— 2 million sleepers
— 8 million sleeper fastenings
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.