Abbott contradicts Napthine on metro rail tunnel claim

 

News article: Abbott contradicts Napthine on metro rail tunnel claim

Tony Abbott has confirmed there will be no Commonwealth money for commuter rail projects if he wins the election, directly contradicting Premier Denis Napthine's claim that the federal Opposition Leader's stance on public transport had ''softened''.

  JimYarin Chief Commissioner

Location: Adelaide, South Australia
Tony Abbott has confirmed there will be no Commonwealth money for commuter rail projects if he wins the election, directly contradicting Premier Denis Napthine's claim that the federal Opposition Leader's stance on public transport had ''softened''.



Desperate to head off a road versus rail debate, Dr Napthine said he had been reassured in private conversations that Mr Abbott was open to the idea of funding the metro rail tunnel from South Kensington to South Yarra.



''I've certainly had some discussions about Tony Abbott's issue with rail tunnels and he has softened, and he has indicated to me that they are prepared to have ongoing discussions on key infrastructure like the metro rail tunnel,'' Dr Napthine said.
Abbott contradicts Napthine on metro rail tunnel claim


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so with the victorian libs it must be the tunnel at all costs but why? transurban the biggest operator of toll roads in australia does not see the viability of the project.  why is it being built?

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  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
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so with the victorian libs it must be the tunnel at all costs but why? transurban the biggest operator of toll roads in australia does not see the viability of the project.  why is it being built?
JimYarin

Trucking industry wants it.  They usually get what they want.

At the moment the Eastern Freeway is very hard to access for B-doubles - the tunnel would make it easy.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
It's very interesting that Napthine threw this red herring out there and then Tony Abbott promptly denied it.  I think in part Napthine realises that the electorate isn't as keen on a $8 billion truck sewer as they anticipated so they're trying to distract people by implying the rail projects will also be funded by an Abbott government (they won't).  The private sector isn't really interested either; Transurban made it clear the other day that they wouldn't make enough money from it under the 'current model' so in other words any financial or traffic projections that Napthine has been making are wrong.  Not that this will put them off - they just need to rework it to give the appearance of financial viability.

Private sector involvement will need to have a clear headline rate of return with tolling rights and a guarantee from the government that if there's a revenue shortfall the taxpayer will pick up the tab.  They need existing toll road operators to be involved to give the project the veneer of legitimacy.  Transurban aren't stupid; they saw what happened with the ridiculously optimistic Eastlink projections and the investors got burnt; they will not be involved unless the state underwrites their bottom line.

Make no mistake: This project will be an enormous financial black hole that will wipe any other infrastructure proposals off the map for a generation.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
It's very interesting that Napthine threw this red herring out there and then Tony Abbott promptly denied it.  I think in part Napthine realises that the electorate isn't as keen on a $8 billion truck sewer as they anticipated so they're trying to distract people by implying the rail projects will also be funded by an Abbott government (they won't).  The private sector isn't really interested either; Transurban made it clear the other day that they wouldn't make enough money from it under the 'current model' so in other words any financial or traffic projections that Napthine has been making are wrong.  Not that this will put them off - they just need to rework it to give the appearance of financial viability.

Private sector involvement will need to have a clear headline rate of return with tolling rights and a guarantee from the government that if there's a revenue shortfall the taxpayer will pick up the tab.  They need existing toll road operators to be involved to give the project the veneer of legitimacy.  Transurban aren't stupid; they saw what happened with the ridiculously optimistic Eastlink projections and the investors got burnt; they will not be involved unless the state underwrites their bottom line.

Make no mistake: This project will be an enormous financial black hole that will wipe any other infrastructure proposals off the map for a generation.
don_dunstan

Dead right. I could not add anything further in agreement.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
There is a developing undercurrent around this project. I believe this project is far from being completed. I am anticipating a lot of angst around the decision for a tunnel.  With the federal election now undecided (let's face it, Abbott is no certainty now to get up since the change of the labour leadership to Rudd) there may not be any funding from the federal government for the road project meaning the shortfall for Victoria will be significant and as has been reported, it will suck up billions for what?

Where are the plans for an inter-modal terminal in the eastern part of Melbourne?  

Expect this issue of an unwanted and unnecessary tunnel through the inner north to grow to the point it will become less viable to build at all, if it ever was.  The question is why if the people of Victoria don't want this project, why is it being built.  

Most revealing were the comments from Abbott. We are not investing in urban rail. Napthine has a gathering storm approaching over this one.

The people have a voice.

Regards
Brian
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Not only that, according to one of the latest news items, Transurban are not interested in bidding for it. And if they don't, it sends a very strong message to any other potential bidders.

Pity all those people with houses in the way have been put through the wringer, probably for nothing.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
....The question is why if the people of Victoria don't want this project, why is it being built....

Regards
Brian
bevans

The Eight Billion Dollar Question.

The fact that something that expensive is even being seriously proposed is testimony to the enormous strength and political clout of the trucking industry.  I don't have to name who the individuals are but we have many multi-millionaires and even a few billionaires who built their wealth on the back of the trucking industry; they view any diversion of public money away from roads and into rail as theft and they will fight tooth and nail to prevent it.  It's actually in their interests to continue hampering any potential transfer of freight from road to rail and therefore things like an Eastern Freight Hub will be strenuously opposed or boycotted by big trucking - so forget about that happening any time soon because this is one Premier they have firmly in their pocket.  With or without Commonwealth money we are going to get this tunnel - doesn't matter if every other major project is cancelled to pay for it.

Your point about the public voting for things they can never have is a really salient one - the voters are crying out for fast and efficient mass transit and our cities can't really continue to operate effectively without it, yet it never gets delivered.  We're in an unfortunate phase of Australian politics where big business and vested interests (political mates) are constantly winning over the needs of the voting public and that doesn't look like changing any time soon.

The only clouds on the horizon are the grass-roots political campaigns starting to get traction against this white elephant but I think the government is already anticipating this.  In the near future you can expect a green-wash campaign ("the tunnel will save diesel/petrol and is therefore environmentally-friendly") a 'progress for all' campaign ("The cost of living will come down once this tunnel is built") and organised smears against antagonists ("those Collingwood/Parkville residents are just being selfish - this is a tunnel for all Victorians").
  ZH836301 Chief Commissioner

Location: BleakCity
One only has to count the limited amount of trucks on Alexandra Pde to see this project is a lemon.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
The people have a voice.
bevans
Dennis Do-Nothing doesn't seem to think so...
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Dennis Do-Nothing doesn't seem to think so...
railblogger

You can tell from the tone of the Premier and his underlings that they will crash or crash through with this.

In my mind I feel that this is already a fait accompli and we might as well forget about trying to stop it; my only hope is that we can limit the financial damage from any lopsided Public Private Partnership so it's not as bad as (say) Southern Cross Station or the Desal Plant.  City Link in retrospect wasn't such a bad deal but Jeff was forced by the domestic banks to underwrite the whole thing so I suppose there's still potential for future claims; I think there was also some deal about not building competing infrastructure but I can't recall (someone with more knowledge than me may be able to tell us?).

Maybe the thing to do is to hope that they somehow build everything else they promised; Dick Hamer managed to build the City Loop AND the Westgate at the same time and the state didn't go broke.
  fabricator Chief Commissioner

Location: Gawler
Simple solution, don't vote for Tony Abbott's excuse for a government, then the state liberals won't get their freeway cash.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
Simple solution, don't vote for Tony Abbott's excuse for a government, then the state liberals won't get their freeway cash.
fabricator

Quite true. A simple solution for simple people.
  mm42 Chief Train Controller

I am amazed at the huge cost of the tunnel, of $1.4b per kilometer. The Eastlink tunnels were only $400m per kilometer. Auckland is building a 2.5km long tunnel as part of a 4.8km motorway that also includes a 4-level interchange, all for a total price of NZ$1.4b. It seems we're proposing a budget 3 times what we should be paying.  While in theory the lowest tender wins, companies tender for the funds they believe to be available. Any company the bids well below the others risks getting a "pariah" status where other companies would be unwilling to share equipment and staff.

http://www.nzta.govt.nz/projects/waterviewconnection/

If the price were more like $500m per kilometer, it would require less subsidy, and could well end up being fully funded from tolls, with the State only having a guarantor role.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
mm42:

For some reason everything is very expensive to construct in Victoria; maybe it's the way things are accounted for here, I don't know.

Railway construction in particular is extreme in comparison to places like Perth, where they managed to build a railway line from the city to Mandurah (70km or so) for $4.5 million a km, whereas our extension from Epping to South Morang (about 4.5km) cost $76 million a km.  There were no acquisitions involved with Epping to South Morang, the reservation was already there from the old Whittlesea railway line; I'm not sure what the official explanation for the extremely high cost is - maybe someone can explain this to us.
  TheBlacksmith Chief Commissioner

Location: Ankh Morpork
mm42:

For some reason everything is very expensive to construct in Victoria; maybe it's the way things are accounted for here, I don't know.

Railway construction in particular is extreme in comparison to places like Perth, where they managed to build a railway line from the city to Mandurah (70km or so) for $4.5 million a km, whereas our extension from Epping to South Morang (about 4.5km) cost $76 million a km.  There were no acquisitions involved with Epping to South Morang, the reservation was already there from the old Whittlesea railway line; I'm not sure what the official explanation for the extremely high cost is - maybe someone can explain this to us.
don_dunstan

Sweet deals done with the unions, like that at the desal plant.
  RTT_Rules Oliver Bullied, CME

Location: Dubai UAE
Sweet deals done with the unions, like that at the desal plant.
TheBlacksmith
A number of years back (about 15), Orica's vendor for a major replacement of the two chlorine plants in Sydney and Melbourne were only hours away from publishing full two page spreads across the country called, "A tail of two cities".

The way the old and new plants production were intergrated with the market in both states for the various outputs meant both plants had to be built together and started the same time as starting one without the other meant there would be a supply issue of a parricular product.

Sydney plant I was told built to plan. Melbourne, not so. Orica wasn't helping too much as they received damages from the vendor, the vendor (Canadian) had strikes over you name they striked on it. The last straw was when the vendor brought in a mock up of the full two page spread adverts that would go in every major Australian daily. The union agreed to all terms and finished the project without any further delay.

There are also other reasons why the Perth Project was cheaper, it was done sooner in mining boom so maybe lower project costs. its a much bigger project so better buying power and more project to dilute the over heads. Narrow gauage may have had a small factor on sleepers?

Perth also built its desal plant for a fraction (nearly half) of the eastern states, especially Qld which pretty much got the same model. The WA unit also worked from day one and they got a wind farm thrown in for the price.

Regards
Shane
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
It's true that a certain construction union appears to be much more militancy and government connections in Victoria.  I knew someone personally who worked on our own Desal Plant site and he told me some really disturbing stories about incredible waste and overspending; I have no doubt in my mind that it was really corrupt and a 'mates' deal (for which Bracks and Brumby should hang their heads in shame).  All Melbourne people have to pay for that waste now for the next few decades.

However that by itself doesn't explain the 14 times cost per km compared to the Mandurah line.  Someone who PM'd me reminded me that the upgrades to the Epping/South Morang line were included in the cost but it's still a huge amount of money considering the green-field nature of the Mandurah line in comparison.
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station
Governments are afraid of borrowing money, raising taxes or charging for services.  They think the public will rate them poorly. The governments like Public Private Partnerships (PPPs) as these give it excuses that it is not their project and the risks are borne by big business.  This is not true.  As with the "take or pay" clause on desal plant water, there will be a guarantee of traffic for the East-West toll road.  We will pay for any shortfall in tolls in our taxes for 30 odd years and this will prevent us doing useful things to improve public transport.

We need to make more of the alternative projects that will do more to aid the movement of people (not movement of cars or trucks) in Melbourne - more capacity and new links to get people out of cars and off roads.
  Peter Spyker Train Controller

Most revealing were the comments from Abbott. We are not investing in urban rail. Napthine has a gathering storm approaching over this one.
bevans

Abbott's dislike of public transport is well known. This is what he wrote about transport in his book:

“In Australia’s biggest cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still hideous drain on the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, overmanned, union-dominated government run train and bus systems. Mostly though, …there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.”

“They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is a king in his own car….For people whose lives otherwise run largely at the beck and call of others, that’s no small freedom.” .

The man is a moron. He should never be let anywhere near power.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
The man is indeed a peanut.  And this man could be running the country in a few months?  A weep for our children.

The man is from the jurassic era!

Regards
Brian
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Abbott's dislike of public transport is well known. This is what he wrote about transport in his book:

“In Australia’s biggest cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still hideous drain on the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, overmanned, union-dominated government run train and bus systems.
Peter Spyker
If he knows these are the problems, then he should be helping to fix them.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
Abbott's dislike of public transport is well known. This is what he wrote about transport in his book:

......
“They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is a king in his own car….For people whose lives otherwise run largely at the beck and call of others, that’s no small freedom.” .

.....
Peter Spyker

It's real nineteen-fifties thinking, isn't it.

Never mind the fact that Los Angeles, that pinnacle of the kind of freedom that Tony Abbott espouses, is going in completely the opposite direction now - building light rail just about everywhere they can, trying to replace the Red Car system destroyed after WW2.  The problem with the system that Tony wants is that it's actually much more expensive in the long run to keep catering for the car than it is to invest more heavily in proper urban P/T and you'll never be able to keep up with demand - like a dog chasing its tail.

Cars lead to isolation and disconnection from the community.  They make people overweight because they get into the habit of driving everywhere.  They are still the most unsafe way to travel compared to public transport and this is despite the advent of ABS/air-bags. Successful and functional cities like NY and London do not pour more and more money into building free-ways and toll-ways, they are doing the opposite - London is enhancing the Tube with the CrossRail project, New York is contemplating adding to the subway system.  If we want our own big cities to emulate the success of those abroad we need to also emulate what they are doing with mass transit.

Melbourne is becoming very dense at the inner core - can you imagine if all these new residents wanted to drive their own car everywhere?  Chaos.  It simply can't be done - we can't build more roads to keep catering to this crazy desire for an idealised society where everyone drives, in a dense and functional urban environment it simply isn't possible.
  don_dunstan Dr Beeching

Location: Adelaide proud
I also hate the tone that Tony Abbott uses in that book - as if the these little people have no control over their lives so let's give them the pretend freedom that driving a car everywhere gives you. And I hardly think you could describe P/T as inefficient, over-manned and union-dominated any longer - maybe thirty years ago but certainly not now.
  The Vinelander Minister for Railways

Location: Ballan, Victoria on the Ballarat RFR Line
Abbott's dislike of public transport is well known. This is what he wrote about transport in his book:

“In Australia’s biggest cities, public transport is generally slow, expensive, not especially reliable and still hideous drain on the public purse. Part of the problem is inefficient, overmanned, union-dominated government run train and bus systems. Mostly though, …there just aren’t enough people wanting to go from a particular place to a particular destination at a particular time to justify any vehicle larger than a car, and cars need roads.”

“They underestimate the sense of mastery that many people gain from their car. The humblest person is a king in his own car….For people whose lives otherwise run largely at the beck and call of others, that’s no small freedom.” .

The man is a moron. He should never be let anywhere near power.
Peter Spyker
Clearly Tony Abbott comes from a privileged background and has probably never been a regular user of PT. Thanks Peter Spyker for posting his astounding and simultaneously enlightening 1950's thinking from this wannabe PM.

Amazing stuff that deserves an article of its own in the Fairfax press...clearly the Murdoch press would never print anything to potentially harm their dear Tony.

To add further to Don Dunstan's words, not only is Los Angeles redeveloping fixed rail for its suburbs...admittedly from a low base, a visit to Denver Colorado is truly a PT paradise with light rail going in everywhere, not to mention making its Union station that city's PT hub.

Have a look at Denvers investment in PT...

http://www.rtd-denver.com/

AND

http://www.denverunionstation.org/

Mike.
  cootanee Chief Commissioner

Location: North of the border!
I also hate the tone that Tony Abbott uses in that book - as if the these little people have no control over their lives so let's give them the pretend freedom that driving a car everywhere gives you. And I hardly think you could describe P/T as inefficient, over-manned and union-dominated any longer - maybe thirty years ago but certainly not now.
don_dunstan
As a dry the guy has no vision or empathy common with many in the current so-called liberal party. Malcolm is in the minority Sad

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