East West Road tunnel - the numbers just don't stack up

 
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Interesting article in todays age newspaper regarding proposed traffic numbers on the east west road tunnel.  The government is under scrutiny on vehicle numbers.

Traffic volumes have fallen or remained static on every major east-west road in Melbourne's inner north in the past decade, VicRoads data shows, clashing with government predictions that congestion is on track to rise by up to 30 per cent in the area in coming years.
The Napthine government released a comprehensive report on the impact of its east-west link project on Thursday, including its effects on traffic volumes on many arterial roads.
The report predicted that traffic would increase by up to 30 per cent by 2031 on main roads in the inner north if the $6 billion-$8 billion, 5.2-kilometre link was not built. It forecast that current traffic levels would fall by the same amount under the east-west link, as the new toll road would draw cross-town traffic off clogged local roads.
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Roads that would experience reduced congestion would include Alexandra Parade and Macarthur Road, with 20 to 30 per cent less traffic, and Flemington Road and Hoddle Street, with up to 10 per cent less traffic, modelling found.
''Those of you who travel around Melbourne would know and understand what happens in school holidays, when our traffic volumes drop by about 10 per cent, and what a great difference that makes to traffic flow,'' Roads Minister Terry Mulder said.
''Can you imagine 30 per cent decreases in traffic along some of these particular roads? What a difference that would make to people who are going to work.''
Traffic has already fallen by up to 13 per cent on those roads in the past decade, VicRoads' annual average daily traffic data for 2002 to 2012 shows.
Traffic on the busiest stretch of Alexandra Parade, between Brunswick and Nicholson streets, dropped from 78,000 vehicles a day 10 years ago to 68,000 last year. Just west on Princes Street, the number fell from 62,000 to 56,000. On Macarthur Road, it sat at 26,000, and on Elliott Avenue, it dipped from 36,000 to 35,000.
Those four roads join the end of the Eastern Freeway with CityLink, the two freeways the east-west link will connect.
The link will remove the need to cross 23 sets of traffic lights on the journey, cutting the travel time to seven minutes, the government's modelling found.
Public Transport Users Association president Tony Morton said predictions of a 10 per cent increase in traffic on Alexandra Parade were ''far-fetched''.
''That would defy the existing trend, where inner-suburban arterial road traffic is in long-term decline,'' Dr Morton said.
Mr Mulder said the traffic bottleneck at the Eastern Freeway/Hoddle Street intersection would roughly halve in length, even as modelling showed traffic volumes through Yarra Bend Park on the approach to the freeway end are expected to increase by approximately 50 per cent as a result of the addition of six lanes.
Some local roads in Melbourne's west are also forecast to see more traffic with the link's opening, including Ormond Road, which the government announced this week would have a new CityLink off-ramp.


Read more: http://www.theage.com.au/victoria/traffic-forecast-at-odds-with-decline-20131031-2wm00.html#ixzz2jjQ82vIh

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  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
I'd love to know what Melbourne would look like without the East-West link but with a massive public transport system upgrade.
  hireandstorage Beginner

Building The Melbourne Airport Rail Link, Doncaster Rail Line, Rowville Rail Line, The Metro Rail Tunnel, extra rolling stock, signalling and associated line upgrades with these works would be a much better way to the spend the money, which is being proposed on to be spent on the East-West link.

In the country areas it would be beneficial to spend money on reopening the line to Mildura, reopening Geelong-Ballarat-Bendigo lines, reopening the Leongatha line and the Shepparton line to Tocumwal, reopen the line for passengers from Ararat to Portland, extra rolling stock, signalling and associated line upgrades to make this happen to service these extra areas.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I think the reality is we just need to accept that it's going to get built regardless of what happens.  There's just too much lobbying going on behind the scenes.

For example, the Herald-Sun has been running some powerfully-worded editorials in the last few weeks in favour; they were ascribing all sorts of magic powers to the East-West link claiming it would attract new high-tech industries, solve traffic woes for all time and put Melbourne on the map as Australia's pre-eminent freight hub... all the usual guff.  The interesting thing was there was also an editorial directly attacking Daniel Andrews for supporting the Melbourne Metro over the East-West Link claiming that rail was not the choice of the consumer and that it wouldn't provide good value to the taxpayer.  They even claimed the unions were not in favour of public transport and that the East-West Link would provide works for thousands more people - the list of virtues this road tunnel has is really quite extraordinary.

There's some really extremely powerful individuals and organisations backing up this thing and there's very little that you or I can do about it.  This is despite the fact that the initial unfavourable financial analysis was quite damning and that similar projects in NSW and QLD have turned out to be real dogs.  The really unfortunate part of this story is that despite the public desire for better and faster public transport, nothing will be spent on any metro rail projects for at least another ten or fifteen years, by which time Melbourne will probably have another half a million residents making inner city congestion even worse.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Summed up perfectly Don Dunstan...despite Victoria's Coalition government being elected largely by the votes of disaffected voters along Melbourne's sand-belt seats.

Mike.
  Valvegear Dr Beeching

Location: Norda Fittazroy
The tunnel will work perfectly by shifting the traffic jam from one place to somewhere else.Rolling Eyes
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

It might be backfiring badly on Napthine Govt if poll figures reflect public disapproval of their prioritisation of roads over rail:
http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/state-politics/victorian-alps-poll-winning-edge-crushing-premier-denis-napthine/story-e6frgczx-1226756911281#
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
The really sad thing is that I don't think they really care, it's actually not about what the voters want - it's about providing opportunities for themselves on boards and companies post-politics and developing monopoly rent-seeking opportunities for big funds like merchant banks and super funds.  And I think they sincerely believe that cars are what people want, they keep telling themselves that anyway.

The tunnel will work perfectly by shifting the traffic jam from one place to somewhere else.
Valvegear
That's all they ever really do isn't it.  In this case I think there'll be arguments for expanding CityLink's infrastructure, especially headed towards Tullamarine because East-West will certainly add to the problems currently experienced during the peaks.  I nearly missed a plane a while back because the Skybus got so slow headed towards Tullamarine and it wasn't even during peak time - imagine how much worse it will be with a new toll-way funnelling trucks and cars from the Eastern straight onto Tulla.
  Mr. Lane Chief Commissioner

To be fair, all else aside I don't think this is going to be a bad project. Sure it may not be value for money when compared to other options, but it is not a bad project in and of itself. For people who have to do the cross city run by car from the Tullamarine to the Eastern and back, this will cut out a lot of wasted time by bypassing several fairly bad intersections. The link is also pretty logical when you consider the freeway network as a whole.

It does not solve the Hoddle Street problem and it will not remove all the cars from Alexandra Parade, but for the people who just want to cross the city without going through it, it will be great. I would have used this quite a bit over the years.

As the road is also pretty much just a bypass it is also not going to be shifting any bottlenecks, it will just be taking cross city traffic out of the bottlenecks.

So I am not saying that it is the best use of Government funds, but it is not like the project will be of no or negative benefit. Claims that it will make things worse are pretty unfounded.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
Mr. Lane: Absolutely right on all counts.  I'm actually in two minds myself because I can see the logical need for it in terms of accessing the Eastern with B-doubles and also people from the east getting onto the Tullamarine.  It's just the enormous amount of rubbish being spouted by Napthine and the Herald-Sun to argue for it's construction, as if it will solve all the traffic problems in the inner-north when clearly (as you say) it's targeted at a very specific cohort and it won't necessarily improve things like Hoddle Street and the overall problems on the Tullamarine at peak times.  If anything, the Tullamarine will need billions more so it can accommodate the extra traffic generated - but I'm sure that's already on the radar anyway.

It's also the sheer expense; at least $8 billion and probably much more.  Personally I think they should have gone for a cheaper elevated roadway along Alexandra Parade but that would have really made the NIMBY's scream.  And the financial projections are really not convincing; I'm just not sure as a motorist if I would be prepared to pay $11 each way to use it considering the relatively short distance - that's the sort of money they're saying the toll will need to be for it to break-even.

Rail investment is what this city is screaming out for - in the inner and outer 'burbs.  There's simply no balance whatsoever in the plan to build East-West link with no parallel rail or public transport investment; it just makes our city a whole lot less bearable for the people who live here.  Even Jeff Kennett was telling them to bite the bullet and just do it.  We can't continue to expand at the rate of an extra million people every 12 years (effectively an extra Adelaide or Auckland) and not experience major degradation of amenity - we need that investment to happen right now.  Future residents will be cursing our inaction.
  melbtrip Chief Commissioner

Location: Annoying Orange
Mr. Lane: Absolutely right on all counts.  I'm actually in two minds myself because I can see the logical need for it in terms of accessing the Eastern with B-doubles and also people from the east getting onto the Tullamarine.  It's just the enormous amount of rubbish being spouted by Napthine and the Herald-Sun to argue for it's construction, as if it will solve all the traffic problems in the inner-north when clearly (as you say) it's targeted at a very specific cohort and it won't necessarily improve things like Hoddle Street and the overall problems on the Tullamarine at peak times.  If anything, the Tullamarine will need billions more so it can accommodate the extra traffic generated - but I'm sure that's already on the radar anyway.

It's also the sheer expense; at least $8 billion and probably much more.  Personally I think they should have gone for a cheaper elevated roadway along Alexandra Parade but that would have really made the NIMBY's scream.  And the financial projections are really not convincing; I'm just not sure as a motorist if I would be prepared to pay $11 each way to use it considering the relatively short distance - that's the sort of money they're saying the toll will need to be for it to break-even.

Rail investment is what this city is screaming out for - in the inner and outer 'burbs.  There's simply no balance whatsoever in the plan to build East-West link with no parallel rail or public transport investment; it just makes our city a whole lot less bearable for the people who live here.  Even Jeff Kennett was telling them to bite the bullet and just do it.  We can't continue to expand at the rate of an extra million people every 12 years (effectively an extra Adelaide or Auckland) and not experience major degradation of amenity - we need that investment to happen right now.  Future residents will be cursing our inaction.
don_dunstan
going by  3aw"

Let's just say the first stage of East-West Link cost $7 billion dollars.  Now the current estimate is $6-8 billion but these sort of projects usually go over cost.
But to play it safe lets just pick the middle number of $7 billion.
Let's also say infrastructure Australia kicks in $1.5 billion, then the cost to a financier or the taxpayer is $5.5 billion dollars.  Now let's also say the rate of return required is 7%, which means the East-West link will have to generate cash every day of just over $1 million dollars.
The state government is suggesting just over 80,000 cars a day will use the link.
For 80,000 cars to generate $1 million per day means a toll for journey at $13.18.
East-West link is going to be a 4.5 kilometre tunnel with a total distance of 6 kilometres at $13.18, that's a very high number.

Just to put it into perspective, CityLink from Hawthorn to the Airport is $7.69, which is the maximum toll.  The Maximum EastLink toll is $5.69.
This is just using the figures the government has been projecting.  If my calculations are correct, the tunnel could be a very expensive route to get home."

The problem is East West Link was  design as an alternative to the M1.(West-gate Freeway and the Bridge.)

But the problem with this - stage one of the project does not do this at all, but instead does the opposite by increasing the demand for the  West-gate Bridge by having the traffic run via stage one to Citylink and then on to the West-gate freeway and on to the bridge.

In fact under ALP - it was design for the west-link to happen first before the eastern part of the East- West Link, so it can be a true alternative to the Westgate freeway and the Bridge.
  Bullucked Assistant Commissioner

For example, the Herald-Sun has been running some powerfully-worded editorials in the last few weeks in favour; they were ascribing all sorts of magic powers to the East-West link claiming it would attract new high-tech industries, solve traffic woes for all time and put Melbourne on the map as Australia's pre-eminent freight hub... all the usual guff.  The interesting thing was there was also an editorial directly attacking Daniel Andrews for supporting the Melbourne Metro over the East-West Link claiming that rail was not the choice of the consumer and that it wouldn't provide good value to the taxpayer.  They even claimed the unions were not in favour of public transport and that the East-West Link would provide works for thousands more people - the list of virtues this road tunnel has is really quite extraordinary.
don_dunstan
Ahhhh, The Feral Scum. (Herald-Sun) The mouthpiece of the Liberal party, marketed to bogons and the less fortunate. Sadly this waste of natural resources influences a lot of stupid people in this state.
  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
.........
In fact under ALP - it was design for the west-link to happen first before the eastern part of the East- West Link, so it can be a true alternative to the Westgate freeway and the Bridge.
melbtrip
The current administration might have information or data to suggest that the Eastern-Citylink leg is more financially viable or politically palatable?  Not sure about that one.  I know that the West-link part was also projected to be quite expensive to construct but given that it replicates existing infrastructure to some extent they might have advice that it's not as viable.

Also, thanks for that interesting 3AW quote, I wasn't aware of those projections.  80,000 vehicles a day is very optimistic and the $13.18 toll estimate is somewhat higher than the figure I had seen but still believable.  I just can't see who is going to want to pay that much money to want to use a 6km stretch of road (apart from the trucking industry), it's much higher than other other comparable toll-road and very, very expensive even assuming the traffic projections are accurate.
  Carnot Chief Commissioner

I avoid the $2.61 toll on the Eastlink tunnel at Ringwood as much as I can anyway, along with 100000s of others.  It does get used occasionally if I'm running late to somewhere.

I'd have to be utterly desperate to use the East-West tunnel....
  melbtrip Chief Commissioner

Location: Annoying Orange
The current administration might have information or data to suggest that the Eastern-Citylink leg is more financially viable or politically palatable?  Not sure about that one.  I know that the West-link part was also projected to be quite expensive to construct but given that it replicates existing infrastructure to some extent they might have advice that it's not as viable.

Also, thanks for that interesting 3AW quote, I wasn't aware of those projections.  80,000 vehicles a day is very optimistic and the $13.18 toll estimate is somewhat higher than the figure I had seen but still believable.  I just can't see who is going to want to pay that much money to want to use a 6km stretch of road (apart from the trucking industry), it's much higher than other other comparable toll-road and very, very expensive even assuming the traffic projections are accurate.
don_dunstan

It takes 10 to 20 mins to get from Eastern Freeway to citylink with current roads.

Melbourne needs an alternative to the Westgate freeway and the Bridge.

East - West Link clearly not an
alternative to the Westgate freeway and the Bridge.

  don_dunstan Minister for Railways

Location: Adelaide proud
I avoid the $2.61 toll on the Eastlink tunnel at Ringwood as much as I can anyway, along with 100000s of others.  It does get used occasionally if I'm running late to somewhere.

I'd have to be utterly desperate to use the East-West tunnel....
Carnot
Eastlink turned out to be a mini-disaster in itself and it's not even that expensive (as you say).  Projections were nothing like the reality; the share price tanked and it also made potential investors in new projects very, very risk averse.  The other point is really salient; $13.00 is completely ridiculous - if you live in Doncaster and you're dropping someone off at the airport it will cost you $26.00 (plus applicable CityLink tolls).  It's like motorists are supposed to be a compliant bottomless well of money.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
France and Italy have just agreed to build a new high speed link to Turin from France. Take a look at the costs and the distances.  Why do we pay such high prices for construction in this country? http://www.railpage.com.au/news/article-13291/
and I quote:

Europe will stump up 40 percent of the 8.5 billion euros ($11.43 billion) needed to build the 57 kilometre (35 mile) long transalpine tunnel, with Italy paying out 2.9 billion euros and France 2.2 billion euros. The first 200 metres of the reconnaissance tunnel were dug using mechanical diggers. With the tunnel boring machine excavators expect to advance between seven and ten metres a day to cover the 7,300 metres remaining.
Railpage News Service

I just don't understand it.  Thjis ia 57 km tunnel for 8.5b euros.

Regards
Brian
  speedemon08 Mary

Location: I think by now you should have figured it out
France and Italy have just agreed to build a new high speed link to Turin from France. Take a look at the costs and the distances.  Why do we pay such high prices for construction in this country? http://www.railpage.com.au/news/article-13291/
and I quote:


I just don't understand it.  Thjis ia 57 km tunnel for 8.5b euros.

Regards
Brian
bevans
Because we demand so large salaries for everyone even if they do menial jobs because of our inflating economy and cost of living. (part of the reason our manufacturing went overseas, they could do it cheaper)
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Because either a) you are not comparing apples with apples (are you comparing an urban environment road tunnel with rural environment rail tunnel?) or b) the difference isn't as great as you think it is (that cost is broadly consistent with those from the recent Australian HSR study).
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Because either a) you are not comparing apples with apples (are you comparing an urban environment road tunnel with rural environment rail tunnel?) or b) the difference isn't as great as you think it is (that cost is broadly consistent with those from the recent Australian HSR study).
donttellmywife

Sure. But a tunnel is a tunnel or am i missing something?  Per km the european experience shows the costs to be a lot lower or 1/4 of the australian costs?  The only difference could be the size of the tunnel?
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
Sure. But a tunnel is a tunnel or am i missing something?  Per km the european experience shows the costs to be a lot lower or 1/4 of the australian costs?  The only difference could be the size of the tunnel?
bevans
If you are comparing the European cost to the East-West arterial project (?) then I think looking at per kilometre costs is a pointless exercise.  

Consider:

- project scale - you would expect lower unit costs for the larger scale project, because once off project costs (for example, purchase of TBM's, if they are used) are spread over more units of distance.

- tunnel diameter - I am not familiar with details of either project, but the tunnel cross section required for a motorway carriageway is huge (perhaps twice the diameter, so four times the excavated volume per unit length, plus increase in ground support requirements) compared to that required for a single rail line;

- ventilation requirements (lots of internal combustion engines versus electric traction) and (I guess related) fire and evacuation requirements;

- construction required for tie-in to the existing road network (the east-west project is more than just a road tunnel);

- the need to maintain the existing road network operational while construction goes on in the same corridor;

- issues associated with working in an urban environment (constrained space, resumption of high value property, restrictions on work associated with urban amenity, etc

etc.  You would need a fairly detailed breakdown of project activities in order to come up with a meaningful comparison.

Regardless of that, I don't believe "a tunnel is a tunnel".  Even for the same bore, ground conditions are critical.  Costings for projects that already have geotechnical information show marked variation in unit cost along the length of a tunnel as ground conditions vary.

Again, per unit length of twin bore rail tunnel, the cost for this European project is consistent (allowing for the inevitable variation you get between projects/countries/etc) with that planned for projects of similar scale in Australia.  That doesn't support statements like "they are a quarter of the cost".
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

The cost estimates seem wildly inflated compared with recent experience in Australia and New Zealand.  Perhaps this is because it is more politically palatable to present a high figure, then come down, than for a figure to start low and keep rising. At $6-$8b, it would cost $1.3 to $1.8b/km for the 4.5 km tunnel.

The nearest experience would be the Mullim Mullim tunnels, which were built for $400m per km.  It is unlikely the rock conditions would be more difficult for the new tunnel.

Auckland is building the WaterView tunnel for NZD 1.4billion. This includes twin 3-lane tunnels with a length of 2.5km, a 3-level interchange and a total motorway length of 5 km.  If the entire cost were the tunnels, it would be NZD 560m/km, but because of the other roading I expect the tunnel component is about NZD 400m/km. The original estimate was NZD 3 billion.  The Linking Melbourne authority would be wise to have key people from NZTA on their committees to learn from their experience in bringing the costs down.


http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/waterviewconnection/
  donttellmywife Chief Commissioner

Location: Antofagasta
The cost estimates seem wildly inflated compared with recent experience in Australia and New Zealand.  Perhaps this is because it is more politically palatable to present a high figure, then come down, than for a figure to start low and keep rising. At $6-$8b, it would cost $1.3 to $1.8b/km for the 4.5 km tunnel.

The nearest experience would be the Mullim Mullim tunnels, which were built for $400m per km.  It is unlikely the rock conditions would be more difficult for the new tunnel.

Auckland is building the WaterView tunnel for NZD 1.4billion. This includes twin 3-lane tunnels with a length of 2.5km, a 3-level interchange and a total motorway length of 5 km.  If the entire cost were the tunnels, it would be NZD 560m/km, but because of the other roading I expect the tunnel component is about NZD 400m/km. The original estimate was NZD 3 billion.  The Linking Melbourne authority would be wise to have key people from NZTA on their committees to learn from their experience in bringing the costs down.


http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/waterviewconnection/
mm42
Perhaps I am wrong (quite possible), but my understanding after looking at this today is that the 6-8 billion figure is the total project cost over 30 years, maybe in nominal terms (versus the construction cost that you quote in the WaterView case).  If my understanding is correct, that sort of figure is really only useful for writing press releases and newspaper headlines, and not much else.

As an example - $1.5 billion government contribution upfront, plus say $200 million per year of the availability payments, at 7% discount rate would give present cost and total cost figures that are consistent with the values in the "summary business case" document that was released a while back.  Unfortunately the summary business case document is devoid of any meaningful detail (regardless of the merits or otherwise of the project, that is pathetic) to either confirm my understanding (and note that I might be getting the financial and economic aspects confused too) or, for that matter, back out the actual upfront construction cost with any confidence (if my understanding is right a thumbsuck would be about $3.5 billion, but don't hold me to that).

The total cost also clearly covers more than just 4.5 km of tunnel.

Consequently I don't think your comparison is necessarily valid.  More detail is required.

Note I am not commenting on the merits or otherwise of this, or any other project, merely cautioning against simplistic cost comparisons between projects.  You need to make sure that you are comparing apples with apples, both in terms of what is being built, and what the dollars referred to actually are.
  Some rail man Junior Train Controller

Location: CIA Headquarters in Washington D.C
I think most of the $8 billion will be spent gold plating the tunnel, the road surface and gold plating while ripping up the Cobram and South Gippsland line
  shrekman Junior Train Controller

Location: E.R.D.
Initially governments are stuck in the conundram between under and over quoting projects.  Imagine if they told you a litre of milk was going to be $1 and it become $2 because someone's adviser didn't factor in there might be a drought and milk production costs go up. Everyone is up in arms, because it's doubled in price. So the government says it's going to be $2 from the start and we all scream that's too much! They lose the publics faith and lose the next election.

Same with these contracts. They over quote so they won't overspend, and then gloat when it comes in under budget, or they over quote so much the project never gets off the ground and they blame the economy/opposition for it. Truth was they never wanted to build it in the first place. Any company who tenders and succeeds on getting a government project must be jumping for joy. "What's that? You need another $1 billion to finish a ticketing system? Here you go." " Getting fresh water from the sea is going to cost how much now? Ok, take our credit card and have fun!!"

To quote Gordon Gekko "Greed is good!" The influence of business and unions over what gets built "for the good of the people" is a joke. Irrespective of the party, all decisions seem to be based on which of your "friends" helped your election campaign.  Very little seems to be done purely because it is good for the people that you are supposed to serve. Oh the joys, of a capitalist society.

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