Passenger Rail

Canberra light rail arrives late but under budget

Stage one of the Canberra Light Rail project has come in $32 million under its contracted budget for a final cost of around $675 million.

The project was built as a collaboration between the Australian Capital Territory Government and Canberra Metro and launched to the public last month.

The saving is even larger when compared with the original business case proposed for the 12km line — also referred to as the Capital Metro project —  released in 2014.

The full business case for the project estimated that it would cost $783 million and open in 2019, and referred to analysis from Ernst and Young to suggest the project would return $1.20 for every dollar spent. Since the project came in under budget however, this has been revised to a return of $1.30 for every dollar spent.

The initial business case budget was later revised downwards by 9.7 per cent in the project’s final stage one contract released in 2016 to $707 million. This contract also moved the start date forward to 2018, a deadline the project would eventually not meet.

The final breakdown of the $675 million spend was split between $589 million for base design and construction costs and $85 million in contingency costs.

The project links Canberra’s city centre to a terminus at Gungahlin in the city’s northern suburbs. Stage two of the project is planned to extend the line to Woden in the south.

ACT Government Minister for Transport Meegan Fitzharris said that patronage on the rail line was greater than the predictions set out in the business case.

“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.”

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