ACT government signs suite of light rail stage 2 contracts

ACT government signs suite of light rail stage 2 contracts

The ACT government has signed a series of contracts with consultants to design its second stage of light rail from the city to Woden, using many of the consultants it used on the first leg.

Ernst and Young has been appointed commercial adviser, including preparing the business case and economic analysis, market soundings, and advising on how to structure the contracts to deliver stage 2. The company also worked on the stage 1 business case, and was contracted for $2.3 million of work on stage 1 in the three years to June 2016.

Work on Canberra's light rail in Northbounre Avenue on Wednesday.

Work on Canberra's light rail in Northbounre Avenue on Wednesday.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Arup has been appointed technical adviser for stage 2, and its tasks include engineering design, traffic and access design, underground investigations, urban design, safety planning and planning approvals.

Arup, also technical adviser for stage 1, is one of the most highly paid light rail consultants date, winning contracts worth $7.6 million over the three years to June 2016.

Work on Canberra's light rail in Northbounre Avenue on Wednesday, as seen from Pacific Suites.

Work on Canberra's light rail in Northbounre Avenue on Wednesday, as seen from Pacific Suites.Credit:Sitthixay Ditthavong

Transport Minister Meegan Fitzharris was unable to provide the final costs of the latest tranche of contracts this week, with details still being signed off, but in November 2016 she said the contracts were together worth about $7 million, of a total $25 million to prepare for stage 2.

The route is expected to be finalised this year, with contracts signed before the 2020 election.

Turner and Townsend has been appointed to estimate costs for the 10km route to Woden, which is more complicated than the line from Gungahlin. It must cross Commonwealth Avenue bridge, and is to be wire-free over the bridge and through the parliamentary triangle.

Turner and Townsend, which also costed the Parramatta light rail line for the NSW government, appears to have been paid nearly $2 million to date for cost estimation work, as "constructability advisor", and assessing the tenders for stage 1.

An audit report last year detailed some of the negotiations between cost-estimator Turner and Townsend and the ACT government when Turner and Townsend initially the capital cost of stage 1 at $1.01 billion in 2014. The figure prompted a "value-engineering workshop" "to allow Turner and Townsend an opportunity to clarify elements of the design for their costing assumptions" and to refine the design to reduce costs, the auditor reported. Soon after, Turner and Townsend revised down the cost to $610 million, including scrapping $100 million of "owners' costs" and a $227 million contingency. Eventually, the construction contract was signed for $710 million.

Elton Consulting has been appointed as communications and engagement advisor. Elton, also involved in Sydney light rail, was contracted to do Canberra planning work in 2015-16, worth $220,000, according to annual reports. In 2015, Elton employed former deputy head of the ACT Land Development Agency Dan Stewart and its website boasts Mr Stewart's experience in light rail.

Sydney rail engineering consultancy SNC Lavalin Rail and Transit has been appointed as operations advisor, including deciding on the light rail vehicles. SNC Lavalin Rail was also operations consultant on stage 1, with contracts worth $2.2 million.

Veitch Lister Consulting will do transport modelling for the second stage, including calculating expected patronage. Veitch Lister worked on demand forecasting for stage 1 and has been contracted for about $400,000 of work to date.

Clayton Utz has been appointed as legal advisors and Sparke Helmore as probity advisor. Hudson Global, in charge of recruitment for stage 1, has also been given the recruitment task for stage 2.

Most of the contracts were tightly contested in the tender round, with the ACT government website listing nine separate bids for the cost-estimation contract won by Turner and Townsend. Four companies bid for the transport modelling contract, and four to be commercial advisor.

Six companies bid for the communications contract. Two companies bid be to technical advisor, but it appears SNC Lavalin Rail and Transit was the only formal bid for the operations management contract. Ten companies bid for the recruitment contract.

Kirsten Lawson is news director at The Canberra Times

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