The Andrews Labor Government will not proceed with the Liberals’ Cranbourne-Pakenham con.
The proposal, which was brought to the previous government as a complex unsolicited bid by a private sector consortium, didn’t go far enough and couldn’t even deliver what the Liberals had promised.
The previous Liberal Government spruiked and publicly committed to the proposal during the state election, pre-empting the outcome and subverting the process of their own Unsolicited Bid Guidelines.
The proposal hadn’t even undergone the required technical assessment to show if it worked, was good value, or could even be delivered at all. That assessment has now shown the project doesn’t stack up.
While some individual elements of the proposal were worthy, the robust assessment revealed that the project rated only “average” and had significant problems and shortfalls, including:
- Insufficient detail, unresolved technical and scope issues, and significant project risk
- A lack of integration between the components of the proposal
- Estimates that the project could blow out from $2.5 billion to at least $3.1 billion
- Trains along the line would continue to be overcrowded
The proposal would have only delivered 25 trains – not enough to meet future passenger numbers. A majority of the trains’ construction would take place overseas, locking out Victorian train manufacturers.
It also only delivered four level crossing removals, failing to remove five of Melbourne’s worst level crossings between Caulfield and Dandenong.
It also would have privatised the Cranbourne-Pakenham line, isolating it from the rest of the network for the next 20 years.
The assessment also revealed that the Liberals had lied about what the project would deliver. A key component of the proposal – a full rollout of high capacity signaling – had been secretly shelved by the previous Liberal Government the week before the 2014 State Election campaign.
Instead of proceeding with this problem-riddled unsolicited bid, the Labor Government will purchase detailed planning, design and engineering work from the consortium, and use it and the funding to fast-track a bigger, better plan with more trains and more level crossing removals.
Quotes attributable to Treasurer Tim Pallas
“The Liberals promised billions of taxpayer dollars to a private sector consortium without knowing if the project would even work.”
“The Liberals lied about their own project, disregarded their own process, and came close to blowing billions of taxpayer dollars on a proposal that didn’t stack up.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Public Transport, Jacinta Allan
“The unsolicited bid was riddled with problems. It wasn’t up to scratch and didn’t go far enough. We’re getting on with a bigger and better plan.”