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The Berejiklian government’s flagship metro rail project under Sydney Harbour and the central city will cost up to $16.8 billion to complete, more than $4 billion above what has been budgeted, a secret government document shows.
The rail line from Chatswood to the central city, and onto Sydenham in the south and Bankstown in the west, is critical to government plans to expand the rail network to handle surging commuter demand. The government originally budgeted the rail line to cost $11.5 billion to $12.5 billion.
But an internal review by Sydney Metro, the state’s operating agency delivering the railway, has forecast it will cost $16.8 billion to finish by 2024 due to blowouts across many parts of the City and Southwest project.
Transport Minister Andrew Constance, left, and Premier Gladys Berejiklian inspect one of the station sites last year. CREDIT:JAMES BRICKWOOD
The highly confidential budget review, completed about 18 months ago, shows the biggest projected cost overruns are for new trains and systems; excavating tunnels and sites for underground stations, such as at Martin Place and Barangaroo; and extensive work at Central and Sydenham stations.
While blaming "market pressures" for much of the cost blowout, it found "significant" under estimates in the much-vaunted project's final business case, which was completed about five years ago, for new trains and systems, as well as the scope of works at Chatswood.
The cost of buying new trains and systems, and then integrating them into the rail network, is projected to nearly double to $2.3 billion.
The budget review reveals that nearly $220 million for temporary transport, which includes putting on replacement buses while the existing Bankstown rail line is closed, was "not anticipated" in the project’s final business case five years ago.
The revelations raise questions about how the government will find the money to cover a blowout in the City and Southwest metro line, while committing the state to other rail projects whose cost will run into the tens of billions of dollars this decade.
This article first appeared on www.smh.com.au
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