SMH Letter to the Editor: Spending $2 billion on south-west rail link is a rip-off

SMH Letter to the Editor: Spending $2 billion on south-west rail link is a rip-off (9 October 2013)

So Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian thinks it’s good news that the south-west rail link will be open a year ahead of schedule and $100 million less than the predicted $2.1 billion (”South-west railway a year ahead of schedule”, October 8). This isn’t good news. It’s the greatest infrastructure scandal in Australia’s history.

Constructed by Leighton subsidiary John Holland, this short, risibly simple piece of infrastructure is costing the taxpayer more than the 10-kilometre, tunnelled Airport Rail Line; more than Perth’s 71-kilometre Mandurah Line with its 11 stations (nine with park-and-ride and bus interchange), two bridges over the Swan River and a kilometre of tunnelling under the city centre; more than the 1400-kilometre Alice Springs-Darwin line (at $1.2 billion); more than the 40-kilometre M7 motorway (which has more bridges, earth moving, steel and concrete).

In fact, inflation adjusted, we’re paying more than three times as much for the south-west rail link as we did for the Harbour Bridge.

The worst of it is that this massive rip-off was facilitated and sanctioned by Treasury. By comparison, the overseas bribery scandals pale into insignificance.

Gavin Gatenby co-convener, EcoTransit Sydney