The budget to electrify Adelaide’s Gawler rail line has blown out by $100 million and commuters will spend more time on substitute buses while work continues.
- Adelaide’s Gawler train line is going from diesel to electric
- After repeated delays, the project has been pushed back again
- The Government says it will not give affected commuters free bus transport
Substitute services for northern suburbs commuters are now planned to run from Boxing Day this year until April 2021.
The electrification project, which has faced repeated delays over the past decade, is now expected to be completed by the end of 2021 at a cost of $715 million, instead of the $615 million previously announced.
Transport Minister Corey Wingard said the current Government inherited a poorly planned project from Labor.
“It was a contract written with only 5 per cent of design done so we’ve had to go through and look at some of the variations and there was a number of legal claims that were being made against this contract.
“It has meant there has been an increase in the cost.”
Opposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis rejected those claims as “breathtaking”, saying the inconvenience to passengers had been caused by the current Government.
“This isn’t something they’ve been working on for a long period of time,” he said.
“If the Treasury and the Minister knew that there was an expense coming, it would’ve been budgeted for in the budget either as a contingency or as something that was a risk.
Mr Wingard said that Labor, when it was in power, “did more backflips on this than the proverbial Russian gymnast”.
Before the Liberals were elected in 2018 he described the project as “on-again, off-again more times than my nana’s nightie”.
The project was first announced in 2008.
No free transport for affected passengers
Labor wants Gawler train line passengers offered free bus transport while the train line is closed, but Mr Wingard said that would not occur.
“I’ve made it clear that’s not what we’re doing,” he said.
“We’re getting on with the job of delivering better services and putting the electrified rail network in place for the people of the north so they have what they’ve had in the south for a number of years now.”
Adelaide’s southern train line was electrified and extended to Seaford in 2014.
An extension of the Tonsley line to Flinders Medical Centre is due to open later this month.
The Outer Harbor, Grange and Belair train lines are keeping diesel-powered trains.