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ACT Light Rail project to come in cheaper and faster under successful tender proposal

The Canberra Metro consortium will deliver the ACT’s light rail network under a public-private partnership agreement, with the first stage from the new town centre of Gungahlin to the city.

The first stage will comprise 12 kilometres of track and 13 stops, serviced by 14 light rail vehicles, a depot and a 20-year operation and maintenance program.

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr said the consortium’s capital cost of $698 million was lower than the government had estimated, but the final price will be agreed on signing, with a variance of five per cent factored in.

The consortium comprises Pacific Partnerships, CPB Contractors, John Holland, Mitsubishi Corporation, CAF, Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments, Deutsche Bahn International and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ.

John Holland will invest equity funding along with Pacific Partnerships, Mitsubishi Corporation and Aberdeen. The company will also provide operations and maintenance services for 20 years in partnership with Pacific Partnerships and Deutsche Bahn International, and deliver the design and construction in a joint venture with CPB Contractors.

Spanish firm CAF will supply and maintain the light rail vehicles, and Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ is financial advisor with funding provided by local and international banks.

Chief executive of John Holland Glenn Palin said Capital Metro would create “enormous opportunity to regenerate the city through the delivery of public transport that supports a growing economy and population”.

“The light rail system will also create and inspire new spaces for the community to enjoy with significantly more green space and a revitalised civic centre.”

Mr Barr said the quality and breadth of the bid responses reflected the appetite of the international infrastructure community to help redefine the city and further improve its liveability.

He said the project was very important to the ACT economy at a critical point in its recovery, delivering local jobs during construction and an estimated $1.2 billion of total benefits to the city.”

Construction is scheduled to start in late 2018 and operations in early 2019.

“Critics of light rail have said that we wouldn’t be able to deliver this project for less than a billion dollars but by selecting a bid that will deliver the project under our projected budget and ahead of our projected timeframes we have proven that our business case was conservative in its estimates,” Mr Barr said.

He said that in terms of total ACT government outlays the project will account for less than one per cent of the government’s expenditure over the life of the PPP agreement.

Talks were under way with the federal government to extend the project to Russell.

“We see the Russell extension as an excellent example of the Prime Minister’s cities agenda and recognise the Australian Government is a major stakeholder in the project as the largest employer and land holder in the corridor,” Mr Barr said.

“This is why we are actively considering the option of a Russell extension and seek to partner with our Commonwealth counterparts to realise this vision.”

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