City Rail Link cost blow-out: Public deserves better
18 April 2019
The AA is calling on the Government and Auckland Council to provide assurances that the cost blow-outs on Auckland’s City Rail Link (CRL) will be contained, and calling for much greater transparency and accountability when it comes to estimating the costs and benefits of major transport projects.
Yesterday it was announced that the estimated cost for the CRL had ballooned by $1 billion to $4.4 billion, and AA spokesman Barney Irvine says that many ratepayers in Auckland and taxpayers nationally will justifiably be feeling outraged.
“The cost of this project has jumped by nearly $2 billion from original estimates, and they haven’t even started boring the tunnels yet,” says Mr Irvine. “No one’s questioning the value of this project to the transport network, but what people want to know is: how much more is this going to cost us.”
Mr Irvine says that large-scale rail projects around the world are notorious for cost blow-outs, and none of what we’re seeing with the CRL bodes well for the Government’s ambitions for light rail in Auckland and Wellington, which currently have a price tag of around $8 billion.
“Whether it’s light rail or any other big-ticket transport project, government agencies need to do a much better job of being open and clear around costs and benefits, and accountable when promises aren’t delivered on,” says Mr Irvine. “The Government’s asking a lot of the public when it comes to funding these projects – it needs to hold up its end of the bargain.”
In the AA’s view, accurate forecasting and control has to be a primary focus for the Government’s new Infrastructure Commission, once it’s up and running.