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Light Rail to deliver $1 billion in benefits: ACT Government

Canberra Times, 31 October 2014

The ACT Government has unveiled its full business case for the Gungahlin tram line, which will cost $783 million and deliver what Capital Metro Minister Simon Corbell described as $1 billion in benefits to the territory. The price tag comes with a 75 per cent confidence measure, meaning a 25 per cent risk the project could run over.

The business case says light rail will be built with a benefit-cost ratio of 1:1.2, indicating the benefits slightly outweigh the costs.

Mr Corbell stressed the Government's outlay is not the $783 million cost, with construction a matter for the private consortium that will be contracted to build and deliver the line.

The government will pay the consortium an annual fee, but has still not disclosed its estimate of that fee. Mr Corbell said it would be unwise to reveal the figure before the private sector bids.

It was also revealed that the government is preparing an additional business case for a possible extension from the planned terminus at Alinga Street to Russell.

Mr Corbell said decisions would be made in the coming months on the extension, which could be included in the tender phase in early 2015.

The government issued its expressions of interest documents with the business case, and one consortium, led by transport giant Keolis Downer, has already put up its hand to bid.

Mr Corbell welcomed Keolis's entry into the contest, describing it as "a great vote of confidence" in the project and proving critics who doubted private sector interest to be wrong.

ACT Chief Minister Katy Gallagher said Labor's chances of hanging on to Government in 2016 were not the first concern in the rail project, which was the right thing for the city. A "do-nothing" approach was not tenable, given population pressures.

The government would share the responsibility for moving underground pipes and wires with the private partners, negotiating who paid what, and would build a new bus interchange at Dickson.

As part of the business case, the government also issued its expected patronage numbers. Morning peak numbers were expected to be 3946 passengers in 2021, reaching numbers as high as 5193 by 2031.

The expected afternoon peak, according to the business case, would be 3607 passengers in 2021 and 5012 by 2031.

They expected a total of 15,120 passengers a day in 2021, with operations to begin in 2019.

Ms Gallagher also used the event to pitch the project to overseas investors.

ACT Greens Member for Molonglo Shane Rattenbury said it was an exciting day for the ACT.

"We've been talking about building light rail for over two decades and now, thanks to the Greens-Labor Parliamentary Agreement, we are seeing the project come to fruition," he said.

Opposition transport spokesman Alistair Coe has claimed his party was refused entry to the Capital Metro business case announcement on Friday in a post on twitter.

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