This document provides and discusses the latest independent cost estimates by Smart Canberra Transport and Australian Logistics Study Centre (ALSC) for ACT light rail Stages 2A, based mostly on information released by the ACT Government, reports in the media and on independent life-cycle cost analysis. However, it should be noted by readers that the ACT Government is parsimonious at best in release of any cost information and contract details in respect of light rail.
In the boxes below are selected letters to the Editor published (and unpublished) in the Canberra Times and Canberra City News about the continuing folly that is Canberra’s light rail. It is heartening to still see such letters from interested Canberrans and that they be published for which Canberra Times and Canberra City News should be congratulated.
While the Greens/Labor Government has a tin ear when it comes to the waste of taxpayers’ money on light rail, that is no reason not to keep up the fight against this wasteful project that is 100% ideological and 0% logical). And let us never forget that the Labor Party brought this on itself by selling its soul to the Greens to hold on to power after the 2012 election
From the outset, Stage 1 of light rail has been known to be uneconomic and that Stage 2 will be extremely uneconomic. This is especially so considering that the planned ‘urban transformation’ effect for Stage 2 would almost certainly be less than for Stage 1 and that the same ‘urban …
In December 2021, Minister Steel tabled the Government’s response to the report.
Its response was replete with the usual platitudes about light rail and excuses for redacted content of the A-G’s report and effectively ignores anything of significance that the A-G report had to say.
The profligate ACT Government should read and heed how Brisbane is solving its public transport demands and it is not with outrageously expensive and outdated trams. The Brisbane City Council has been planning its new all-electric bus metro system since 2016, with service to commence in 2024.
Since the decision to proceed with Light Rail Stage 1, the Territory has pursued an intention to extend the network to Woden as part of Stage 2. In September 2019, the ACT Government announced it had decided to split Light Rail Stage 2 into two components: Stage 2A – a 1.7‐kilometre extension Civic to Commonwealth Park; and Stage 2B – a 9‐kilometre light rail track from Commonwealth Park to Woden.
The government made public a redacted version of the Stage 2A Business Case on 10 September 2019.
On 21 June 2019, the Government released its City to Gungahlin Light Rail Project Delivery Report, prepared by Transport Canberra.
Although a critic of light rail in Canberra, ALSC considers Stage 1 of the project to have been very well managed and to have delivered a sound technical product, ie a light rail system. However, one cannot say the same for what one may call political manipulation of the project, from its inception, in terms of ideological objectives, one-way promotion, incredible claims in documentation released, grossly understating the real cost of the project and non-publication of information vital to public understanding, eg certain contract details.
How sad it is for the residents of Canberra to be staring into the ‘black hole’ that is light rail, a bottomless money pit that will suck in vast amounts of taxpayer funds, at great and unsustainable opportunity cost and cause serious disruption to the social fabric of our city. Additionally, it will concentrate and monopolise development funds to the detriment, distortion and disruption of a balanced and equitable development of Canberra as a whole.
It is even sadder to think that we can blame this folly on the imperative for the Labor Party to retain office, having been born out of political expediency after the 2012 election and sustained by the ideology of a political minority. Execution of Stage 1(Gungahlin-Civic), now under way, was a primary condition of Greens support.
Canberra’s light rail is a giant ‘black hole’, a bottomless money pit, which will suck in vast amounts of taxpayer funds, at great and unsustainable opportunity costs and cause serious disruption to the social fabric of Canberra. Additionally, it will concentrate and monopolise development funds to the detriment, distortion and disruption of a balanced and equitable development of Canberra as a whole.
In 2012 the ACT Government made a policy decision to implement a light rail between Gungahlin and Civic. Between 2012 and late 2014, the Capital Metro Agency undertook work to plan for the delivery of the Capital Metro light rail, including:
- designing the light rail, i.e. determining its design features and how the light rail should operate;
- estimating the costs associated with the light rail and the value of the benefits expected to be derived from the light rail; and
- identifying the most appropriate way to proceed with the delivery of the light rail, including whether it should be delivered through a public private partnership.
This audit considers the activities of the Capital Metro Agency in initiating the Capital Metro Light Rail Project, following the ACT Government’s 2012 policy decision, including project management, governance and administrative arrangements associated with the Capital Metro Light Rail Project and activities to design the light rail, estimate the costs and benefits associated with the light rail and identify the most appropriate way to proceed with the delivery of the light rail.
This document is a detailed critique of the Business Case for Capital Metro Stage 1 that the ACT Government released on 31 October 2014, concurrently with the request for Expression of Interest to potential suppliers of the tramway system.
In general, the Business Case was a highly confusing document, riddled with inconsistencies and errors and poorly organised in content. It was useless to anyone other than the Government.
In September 2015, CanTheTram Inc (CTT) tendered a detailed submission to the ACT Audit Office in response to its intention of to conduct a review of the Capital Metro Stage 1 project.
The Audit Office published its report in 2016. Principal findings of the report were: that the real Benefit to Cost Ratio (BEF) was only 0.49 and not over unity, as claimed by the government; and that the project would cost a nominal $1.78 billion for construction and 20 years of operation. The report was effectively ignored by the Government.
CTT had been active since July 2014, in investigation and analyses of the shortcomings of this project, as pursued by the ACT Government, through its Capital Metro Agency (CMA).
The submission provides information and comment relevant to:
- whether the ACT Government has met its statutory responsibilities in the procurement to date of the Capital Metro Stage 1 project, in accordance with the Government Procurement Act 2001; and
- the Role of the ACT Audit Office in assuring provisions of the Act, in respect of its audit of the project.