ANDREW Barr and Simon Corbell say the first stage of Canberra’s light rail network will be delivered by a world-class consortium, Canberra Metro, sooner and with a capital cost lower than earlier estimated.
Canberra Metro will construct and operate stage one of Canberra’s light rail from Gungahlin to the City.
“Canberra Metro’s proposal offers an innovative and world-class solution that will deliver better transport for Canberra,” Andrew said.
“The quality and breadth of the bid responses reflects the stature of this project and the appetite of the international infrastructure community to help redefine our city and further improve its liveability.
Simon said the winning consortium, comprising of Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors, John Holland, Mitsubishi Corporation, Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments, Deutsche Bahn International and CAF has a proven track record of transport construction and operation both within Australia and overseas.
“Between them they will deliver on 12km of light rail track, 13 stops, 14 light rail vehicles, a depot and 20 years of operation and maintenance,” Simon said.
“Light rail will operate from as early as 6am and up to 1am with services every 6 minutes during peak times. It will integrate with buses and other forms of transport to provide an efficient service that will change the way Canberrans move around their city.
“While the final cost will be confirmed when contracts are signed, the capital cost included in the winning bid is $698 million, with a variance of 5 per cent depending on contract negotiations and changes in market conditions between now and contract closure.
“Additionally, Canberra Metro will complete construction in late 2018 and begin operations in early 2019. This is sooner than previous estimates and means less disruption for Canberrans and faster access to the transformational effects of this city changing project.
“Importantly, as Northbourne Avenue and the Federal Highway are the entry to the national capital, the removal and replacement of trees will be staged to minimise the visual impact. The staged approach will mean that as sections of trees are removed, and replaced with 4m tall plantings, there will only be periods of 3-4 months where each section will be without trees.
“Critics of light rail have said that we wouldn’t be able to deliver this project for less than a billion dollars but by selecting a bid that will deliver the project under our projected budget and ahead of our projected timeframes we have proven that our business case was conservative in its estimates.
“While the project’s opponents claim that this is the only priority for the ACT Government it is an important but affordable investment for this city’s future. In the context of total ACT Government outlays, this project will account for less than one per cent of the government’s expenditure over the life of the PPP. Over the same period, the ACT Government will outlay 34 times as much on health and 25 times as much on education.”
Andrew Barr said a decision on a possible extension to Russell will be made this year as discussions continue with the Federal Government.
“The Australian Government has shown its commitment to partnering with states and territories to deliver quality transport infrastructure through the Prime Minister’s cities agenda,” Andrew said.
“This is demonstrated through his investment in stage 2 of the Gold Coast light rail and through the asset recycling initiative.
“I met with the Prime Minister late last year and following the meeting he has invited the ACT Government to seek federal funding for the Russell extension.
“We see the Russell extension as an excellent example of the Prime Minister’s cities agenda and recognise the Australian Government is a major stakeholder in the project as the largest employer and land holder in the corridor.
“This is why we are actively considering the option of a Russell extension and seek to partner with our Commonwealth counterparts to realise this vision.”
UPDATE: The Liberals’ Alistair Coe has issued a statement of his displeasure:
The disrespect Andrew Barr and ACT Labor have for Canberrans is disgraceful as the government commits to a light rail tenderer without a mandate, Shadow Minister for Transport Alistair Coe said today.
“Andrew Barr is squandering taxpayers’ money without giving them an opportunity to have a say on how it should be spent,” Mr Coe said.
“Light rail is deeply unpopular in Canberra, but again today we see Andrew Barr is more interested in his own grandeur than providing responsible government for the ACT.
“Serious questions remain about the rate of finance, repayment information, the scope of the works and the government’s contribution to construction.
“Also, the fact that the government plans to begin construction just months before the election demonstrates it doesn’t take democracy seriously.
“I again call on the Barr government to do the right thing and delay the light project until after the 2016 Election so Canberrans can decide how their money is spent,” Mr Coe concluded.
UPDATE: The Canberra Business Chamber have expressed their glee at the project.
“Canberra Business Chamber welcomes today’s announcement of Canberra Metro as the prime contractor to build and operate Capital Metro as it means this project is now officially underway and local businesses can start to explore the opportunities it opens up for them,” said chamber CEO Robyn Hendry.
“It is estimated light rail will create 3,500 jobs and hundreds of millions of dollars in economic benefits – we want to make sure Canberra businesses are primed to get their fair share.
“Through the Light Rail Business Link Program, Canberra Business Chamber will help local businesses make the most of opportunities created by the construction and operation of light rail. In particular it will offer information, advice and training on key areas of competency, such as contract management.
“Getting involved in large infrastructure projects can potentially create as many risks for businesses, especially small businesses, as it does rewards. The support the Light Rail Business Link program provides will help local businesses avoid the pitfalls and prepare to succeed,” Ms Hendry said.
More information on the Light Rail Business Link Program is online at canberrabusiness.com