The Minister of Transport Phil Twyford is blaming the former National government for incorrectly estimating the cost of the Auckland Central Rail Link project in the face of a $500 million dollar budget blow out.
“Unfortunately the former National government estimated the cost of the project based on 2014 figures,” Twyford told interest.co.nz. “This means the previous government had not accounted for rising construction costs.”
But when asked to comment further on the growing cost of the project Twyford said he couldn’t elaborate.
“It would be inappropriate for me to comment on the costs of the Central Rail Link (CRL) project while a competitive tendering process is underway.”
The project is being jointly funded by the Government and Auckland Council, and was originally expected to cost $3.4 billion and scheduled for completion in 2024.
But a report in the NZ Herald last week quoted an unnamed senior council officer who said revised estimates for the project had increased by $500 million and that there were now concerns the cost overrun could top $1 billion. Auckland Council has so far refused to confirm or deny the reports.
A statement from Auckland Council on Monday said:
“Several factors may have a bearing on the final cost of the CRL project, however it would not be appropriate to comment while a competitive tender process for the next stage of the project is still underway and current estimates have yet to be finalised.
“Auckland Council has not yet considered how any extra costs would be funded. An update will be provided when it is appropriate to do so.”
National says Twyford should be held to account
But National Party transport spokesman Paul Goldsmith says Twyford needs to be held to account for the cost blow out.
“After 16 months, the Government needs to take responsibility for its own decision making and poor management of major projects. From what we’ve seen so far, the management of the City Rail Link does not fill us with confidence that the management of the very expensive slow tram to the airport will be any different either.”
In November it was announced that RCR Infrastructure (NZ) had gone into voluntary administration. The company is the New Zealand subsidiary of Australian company RCR Tomlinson which went into liquidation last year.
It was part of the consortium under the Interim Project Alliance Agreement (IPAA) awarded the contract that is currently delivering the designs for the C7 Systems Contract. This includes the rail tracks, signalling, overhead lines, control systems, room fit-out, communications and building works.
RCR Infrastructure (NZ) was in a joint venture with WSP Opus and was still completing the $7.5 million contract to design the railway when it went into voluntary administration. City Rail Link Ltd (CRLL) Chief Executive Sean Sweeney said in a statement late last month that RCR Infrastructure (NZ) would not be contracted for the next stage of the project which could be worth up to $500 million dollars.
This includes building the main stations and tunnels and is due to start mid-way through 2019. The shortlisted tenderers include the Link Joint Venture with Downer, Vinci Grands Projets, Soletanche Bachy, AECOM, Tonkin and Taylor and WSP Opus and a joint venture between CPB Contractors, UGL, Beca, McMillan Jacob and Jacobs.
“The contract is expected to be awarded by the end of April next year and the successful tenderer will now deliver the stations, tunnels and the rail systems for the City Rail Link project,” Sweeney said.
The CRL project is a 3.45 km twin-tunnel underground rail link which will connect the Britomart Transport Centre with new stations at Aotea Square and Karangahape Road. It will make Britomart a through station and will provide quicker travel times for many people and will also allow better access for train users to parts of the city centre with the new stations near mid-town and Karangahape Road.
The CRL project is being jointly funded by the Government and Auckland Council and will allow the rail network to at least double it existing capacity. City Rail Link Limited was formed in 2017.