Sydney’s Light Rail behind schedule, NSW an ‘unhappy customer’
The Transport Minister has declared “NSW is an unhappy customer” after delays to Sydney’s Light Rail.
Just 14 kilometres of the 24.7-kilometre track from Kingsford/Randwick to Circular Quay has been laid.
The CBD’s South East Light Rail is due to open in April 2019, but people familiar with the project question whether that is possible.
Consortium ALTRAC is laying on average 25 metres of track a day.
To meet the April 2019 deadline, they need to be laying 260 metres each day.
Light rail vehicles need to be tested, drivers need to be hired and trained and problems need to be ironed out before it will be open to passengers.
It is understood that ALTRAC is facing a $500,000 penalty for every day it’s late.
“It’s fair to say NSW is an unhappy customer at the moment,” Transport Minister Andrew Constance said.
“We expect better in terms of ALTRAC and they have an obligation to deal with the problems they have.”
ALTRAC has blamed unforeseen utilities under George Street and changes in the scope for the delays.
It’s understood the company has lodged a substantial log of claims to the state government claiming some work was far more expensive than estimated.
“Like any major project the commercial discussions are commercial in confidence and this is no different,” CEO of ALTRAC Glenn Bentley said.
As Transport Minister NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian was responsible for signing the project contract in 2014.
The document has been described as far from ideal and is the reason for many of the problems.
The Auditor General also slammed the project in a report finding that “omissions and mispricing” caused the cost to blow out from $1.6 billion to $2.1 billion.
At the time, Ms Berejiklian said the cost increase was due to “customer improvements to the original scope”.
“It’s a dog of a project,” Opposition leader Luke Foley said.
“It will permanently congest the CBD, it’s late it’s over budget and she (Ms Berejiklian) needs to explain what’s going on here.”
On a lighter note, the first testing of the light rail vehicles will begin on Alison Road at Moore Park between Wansey Road and Lang Road at midnight tonight.