Incompetence reigns over Epping rail extension

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From Kenneth Davidson, TheAge Nov 1 2010

Even the simplest task becomes problematic and hugely expensive.

The Victorian Transport Department’s ability to manage its portfolio of responsibilities in a way that shows respect for Melbourne’s liveability and taxpayers’ dollars is – like that of the Department of Sustainability and the Environment’s management of water – beyond incompetence.

The latest example of Transport’s overt hostility to extending the rail network in the new growth corridors of Melbourne was its announcement that the extension of the Epping line (along the existing easement of the old line to Whittlesea) would not continue further than South Morang. The easement from South Morang to Mernda would instead become an exclusive bus route. Both the rail extension and the proposed bus route raise questions.

It is difficult to imagine a cheaper and more straightforward rail connection than this, along an original existing easement. But in Victoria, the task becomes amazingly expensive. The rail extension to South Morang will cost taxpayers $76 million per kilometre.

By comparison, the contract for a suburban section of the Perth to Mandurah line cost $4.5 million a kilometre.

Last week, the department announced $48.5 million ”to begin planning and construction of a bus-way between Mernda and South Morang”. To begin?

Read Kenneth’s full article, and the many insightful comments.

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