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The cost of Sydney’s CBD and South East Light Rail project has ballooned a further $180 million, taking the total to $3.3 billion, according to an auditor general’s report.
The 12km network is now fully operational, with the final section from Randwick to Kingsford opening in April this year.
But Opposition transport spokesman Chris Minns described it as a waste of taxpayer money.
“The world’s slowest and most expensive light rail has just got worse and has been a disaster from the beginning,” he said.
“It’s already 100 per cent over the original costing and who knows how much higher it will go?
“This is a blowout that is on (Transport Minister) Andrew Constance’s head. He has a lot of questions to answer about wasting taxpayer money.”
Opposition transport spokesman Chris Minns says it is the world’s slowest and most expensive light rail project. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye GerardSource:News Corp Australia
In June, a performance audit report was tabled showing Transport for NSW had not accurately updated project costs, limiting its transparency.
The report noted that as at March the total cost of the project would exceed $3.1 billion — up from the revised cost of $2.9 billion last year. The original estimated cost was $1.6 billion in 2013.
The auditor general’s report, which was tabled on Thursday, said Transport for NSW was still finalising the total cost of the project in March.
“As part of this process, Transport for NSW identified and reported further costs of $180 million in relation to the construction of the CBD and South East Light Rail, bringing the total cost of the project at 30 June 2020 to $3.3 billion,” the report from Auditor-General Margaret Crawford read.
“This total project cost includes $54.3 million paid during construction as part of a small business assistance program.”
The program was established to help small businesses on the route that were affected by construction delays.
“The report recommended that Transport for NSW publicly report on four areas: final project cost, updated expected project benefits, benefits achieved in the first year of operation, and average weekly journey times,” the auditor general’s report read.
“At 30 June 2020, the total cost of the project related to the CBD and South East Light Rail was $3.3 billion. Of this, $2.6 billion was recorded as assets.”
The NSW government denies the cost of the project has blown out further. Picture: Tim HunterSource:News Corp Australia
But a Transport for NSW spokesman said the construction cost remained at $2.99 billion, excluding GST, and short-term expenses had always been excluded.
“Separate to the construction costs, Transport for NSW paid precontract costs, and $54.3 million for the small business assistance program,” the spokesman said.
“Private sector financing costs of $383 million will be written off over the term of the PPP arrangement via service payments.”
The final cost of the project will not be known until the Infrastructure NSW Gate 6 review, which is currently expected to be complete in the first half of next year, the spokesman added.
This article first appeared on www.news.com.au
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