Sydney Light rail farce to worsen traffic congestion

By Leith van Onselen

In the wake of the massive cost blow-outs and delays hitting both the Parramatta Light Rail Project and the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project, the former head of Infrastructure NSW, Paul Broad, in June described the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project as a waste of money and a vanity project that should have never been started.

This was immediately followed by a secret report prepared by the NSW State Government’s own experts – the Transport for NSW’s urban domain reference group – which warned the plan for Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project was ill-conceived from the outset.

Early last month, NSW Auditor-General Margaret Crawford has slammed the management of the Eastern Suburbs Light Rail Project, claiming the Government’s failure to conduct a proper business case has led to a $500 million cost blowout.

Whereas mass immigration shill, RBA Governor Phil Lowe, also panned the project as a textbook example of poor oversight.

Two weeks ago, the farce intensified further with more than 60 businesses and landlords launching a class action lawsuit against the NSW Government, whereas it was also revealed that NSW taxpayers are on the hook for a $500 million loan undertaken by the consortium building Sydney’s light rail project.

Now, a leaked assessment by Infrastructure Australia in 2013 warned that Sydney’s light rail project would not increase capacity on the public transport system, and would lead to worse traffic congestion and longer travel times overall. From The SMH;

The analysis of the project by Infrastructure Australia… raised questions about the benefits to commuters and whether the proposed light rail line would lead to an “effective increase in the capacity of Sydney’s transport system”.

It cited modelling that traffic congestion in Sydney’s central business district could worsen by 12 per cent due to a light rail line, and “be worse” along Anzac Parade in the south-east.

The assessment also warned that the light rail line would not cut travel times for commuters, and that many intersections along Anzac Parade would deteriorate from “free-flowing conditions” to congested.

­“In relation to the value to transport users, the light rail system does not generate time saving for commuters,” it said…

The leaked assessment also shows Infrastructure Australia questioned findings of consultants commissioned by Transport for NSW in 2012 that the project would have a benefit-cost ratio of 1 – the point at which it is deemed to be of viable economic value to taxpayers.

The federal advisory body’s assessment cited “a number of significant problems” in the consultants’ appraisal that meant the benefit-cost ratio “is not robust”. That included failing to account for a cut in road capacity and disruption caused by the project.

“The disturbance costs of Sydney light rail are likely to be substantial and are not included in the current economic appraisal,” it said.

Earlier this year, Spanish subcontractor Acciona sued the NSW Government for $1.2 billion, in addition to the projects existing $2.1 billion cost, claiming it had been misled about the cost of ripping up powerlines under the CBD and replacing them. Sydneysiders also face a one-year delay for the project to be finished.

The incompetence of this State Government is staggering. It has messed up nearly every major infrastructure project that it has embarked upon in a futile attempt to keep pace with Sydney’s break-neck population growth.

Yet this is no surprise, from the above rail projects to road projects like WestConnex, to schools and hospitals, the incompetence is manifest in tumbling living standards with much worse to come, regardless of how Sydney is built-out according to Infrastructure Australia:

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Leith van Onselen

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