North West Rail Link costs go off the track


North West Rail Link costs go off the track

EXCLUSIVE by Andrew Clennell
The Daily Telegraph
February 20, 201312:00AM

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North West Rail Link … an artist’s impression of Kellyville Station. Source: The Daily Telegraph

SOME costs for the North West Rail Link have more than doubled before a single piece of track has been laid.

Supporting fears raised by Infrastructure NSW boss Nick Greiner and Finance Minister Greg Pearce that the $8 billion project could swallow the state government, tenders for legal, finance and geotechnic services have skyrocketed from the estimated $33 million to $68 million.

Even the fee for defining the “business case” for the project blew out by $2.7 million, the government’s contracts register shows.

A contract for engineering, rail systems and architecture with AECOM, originally estimated at $19.7 million, has increased to $31 million.

A contract with lawyers Clayton Utz has blown out from $735,000 to $8.8 million.

Coffey Geotechnics’ bill has risen from a projected $997,465 to $6.5 million and a land-surveying contractor, Whelans Insites and Subcontractors, has upped

costs from $1.7 million to $3.7 million.

Even Ernst and Young’s bill for a project definition and business case has risen from $1.4 million to $4.1 million.

The government argued yesterday that most of the cost increases were because contracts had been extended but this is the case in only three of the 10 blowouts.

“Before one metre of track had been laid, tenders for the North West Rail Link are already costing double their original budget,” opposition transport spokeswoman Penny Sharpe said.

“The government has made 34 announcements about the North West Rail Link yet this project still has no start date and is not fully funded. The minister has been warned that this could be the project that eats up every other infrastructure project in NSW. Unless these blowouts are brought under control, these fears will become a reality. Imagine how much tunnelling will cost if this is how it’s going so far.”

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said: “It is rubbish to claim contracts are over budget, as some have been extended, some for up to two years. Unlike Labor, who failed to deliver anything, we are getting on with the job and so far 22 contracts and 44 tenders have been awarded for this important project.

“I’m pleased the North West Rail Link is on time and on budget – the government has always stated the project cost will be between $7.5 billion and $8.5 billion and that remains the case.”

Tenders closed on Friday to build the 15km twin tunnels between Bella Vista and Epping, the longest rail tunnels to be built in Australia.

Ms Berejiklian has promised tunnel boring machines will be in the ground next year, a year before the state election, but refused to say when it will be completed. Some have put the end date as far away as 2020.

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