The Victorian Government has defended the 0.78 benefit cost ratio scored by its level crossing removal program, saying the plan is about far more than economics.
A Project Business Case released on May 18 by Victoria’s Level Crossing Removal Authority – the body overseeing the removal of 50 level crossings between 2016 and 2022 – calculates the overall benefit cost ratio of the program at just 0.78, meaning just 78 cents of benefits will be realised for every $1 invested into the project.
BCR analysis considers the financial benefits forecast to be made by a project, compared with its cost. Governments typically favour projects with the highest BCRs, and it goes without saying that projects with effectively negative BCRs – i.e. below 1 – are often ignored entirely.
But in the case of level crossing removals, the Authority argues the non-financial benefits are worth the program’s $6 billion price tag.
“The program of crossing removals will have benefits for safety, congestion, and creating better connected, liveable and thriving communities,” the Authority said. “20 people died after being hit by a train between 2005 and 2014 at one of the 50 crossings slated for removal, with more than 60 collisions and nearly 680 near misses also occurring at those 50 sites.”
The program also achieves a better BCR when considered in conjunction with the rest of the Andrews Government’s package of rail works, including upgrades to the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, and the Metro Tunnel under the CBD.
The Authority’s analysis estimates the BCR of the level crossings program at 1.2 with the additional programs’ benefits factored in.
“Together, this pipeline of projects will transform Melbourne’s transport network and the future shape of Melbourne,” the Authority said. “10 level crossings have already been removed, a further 13 are underway and all 50 will be removed by the end of 2022.”