NSW births another light rail white elephant

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 NSW Auditor-General has lambasted the 2.7 kilometre light rail line in Newcastle, whose cost blew-out by 44% to $368 million and was built with a “not convincing” business case.

In a report released on Wednesday, the Auditor-General was critical that the light rail project was decided and announced by the government in 2013 before an analysis of its benefits and costs was prepared.

“Business case analysis provided to Cabinet after the initial light rail decision was announced was overly optimistic,” the report said. “The analysis also underestimated the costs of the project”…

It also indicated that the new line would “not make a significant contribution” to improving public transport in Newcastle, the Auditor-General’s report said. Projections showed it would actually increase travel times for people travelling from outside the city centre.

What is it about the word “rail” that makes politicians and policy makers leave their brain at home and renders them incapable of conducting an impartial analysis based on facts?

Even a 30 second glance at this project would have see that it is uneconomic and likely to be heavily underutilised.

I guess we shouldn’t be to surprised, however. The incompetence of this State Government has been staggering. It has messed up nearly every major infrastructure project that it has embarked upon in a futile attempt to keep pace with break-neck population growth.

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