Cost estimates for the ACT Government rapid transport proposal are economically responsible and are as detailed as possible at this early stage in the process, Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development, Simon Corbell, said today.
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.
"As a result there is a significant contingency in these costings due to the early stage of the project, and including a contingency of this nature is prudent financial and project management practice."
Mr Corbell also dismissed claims made by the Australasian Railway Association (ARA) that comparison should be made with the Portland's equivalent Light Rail network which was built at a cost of only $350 million.
This project was built eight years ago and cost estimates were first produced in 1999. In the last decade there have been significant price increases and it is not an up-to-date comparison.
"This can be seen in the Portland -Milwaukie light rail corridor extension which has a total cost of $US1.5 billion for a 11.7 km extension which equates to $128 million per kilometre," Mr Corbell said.
The City to Gungahlin project construction cost estimates are based on an assessment which provides for the introduction of segregated rapid transit lanes along the entire length of the corridor as well as:
- modifications and additions to two bridges on Flemington Road;
- modifications to the signalling system in order to maximise the effectiveness of the segregated system;
- new stops and vehicles for the rapid transit lanes;
- widening of the footpaths and introduction of segregated single direction cycleways
- modifications to the width and landscaping of the verges and median
- shifting the traffic lanes along Northbourne Avenue to improve the amenity of the corridor and accommodate the changes above
The LRT option is estimated at a considerably higher cost than the BRT option due to:
- dedicated track-bed and signalled crossovers
- electrification, including substations, overhead wiring and support systems
- slightly larger and more complex stops / stations
- the requirement for a depot to facilitate stabling and maintenance
- high capacity rolling stock vehicle cost
- correspondingly higher planning and design costs.
"The debate about costs must have regard to the fact that this project is at its early and initial cost estimates stage. This includes a provision for contingency of approximately 30%. As the government continues further work on this project estimates will be further refined and accuracy further improved. This is the normal process in developing a realistic assessment of costs for large scale infrastructure projects.
"The fact is light rail is more expensive, it is time to have a sensible debate about whether or not it is appropriate for the Territory to invest in such a project recognising all of the benefits and costs associated with the choice between light rail transit and bus rapid transit.
"Conspiracy theories about deliberate attempts to overstate costs are not helpful in this important discussion about Canberra's public transport future.
"The Government is giving active consideration to both options, and will also release further detailed cost assessments once they are completed."
- Statement ends -
Section: Simon Corbell, MLA | Media Releases
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