The Gungahlin tram line is speeding development in the Northbourne corridor, the government says, pointing to about 2500 extra apartments already in train since 2016.
The developments are on Northbourne Avenue or in the couple of blocks either side, from Dickson to the city. The government says the value of development approvals in over 16 months from November 2016 totals $394 million.
One of the claimed benefits of the light rail project was to create higher-density living and increase property values in the corridor, increasing jobs and reducing the need to open up new housing developments on empty land further out.
On Friday, the government released its final report on the 12 kilometre line, comparing what it promised with what it delivered.
The project was designed to enhance Northbourne Avenue as "a grand entrance" in line with the Griffin vision. That vision "on track", according to the report, although it noted the landscape plantings would "require close care until fully established".
Also "on track" was the replacement of 1288 public housing properties, higher density living and higher property values. Houses in the inner north had increased in value by 39 per cent between 2014 and 2018, compared with 17 per cent across the whole city, the report said.
The original business case said the 12 kilometre line from Gungahlin to the city had a cost benefit ratio of 1.2 - bringing $1.20 worth of benefits to the city for every $1 spent. The final report revises that up to 1.3.
The line was supposed to reduce road congestion and reduce carbon emissions and increase cycling and walking. Data was not yet available on those benefits, the report said. The project was supposed to create jobs in the corridor - a benefit for which modelling was also not yet available.
But the expected construction jobs had mostly been achieved, with targets exceeded for local jobs and diversity. But the apprentice and trainee plans were not met. The government promised 60 apprenticeships and traineeships, places for 10 graduates, and more than 40 placements for defence engineering students. Seventeen apprentices and one trainee were employed. Overall, 4750 workers had been inducted on to the site, the government said .But it has not released data on full-time equivalent jobs.
One expected benefit has been achieved, according to the report - the federal asset recycling scheme payments.
The report says the final construction cost was $675 million, well under the $707 million price tag announced when the government signed its contract with the private consortium that built and is operating the line, and much less than the business case estimate of $783 million. It is close to Katy Gallagher's line-in-the-sand cost of $614 million in 2014 dollars.
Once the 20 years of payments to the consortium are included, the overall project cost is $872 million (calculated as "the net present cost"), according to the government report, also down on the expected $939 million. The consortium is being paid $55-$60 million a year till 2025, rising in the years after that to peak at $79 million in 2033.
The Canberra Metro consortium will be paid an extra $245,000 a year, as a result of the extras in the contingency, the report reveals.
April was a big month for the consortium. It received its $375 million lump sum payment from the government, plus $60 million for contingencies (with $20 million more coming in 2019-20), plus its first, partial, operations payment of $14 million.
The project cost detailed in the report does not include the millions spent on consultancies, technical and other reports to prepared for the project, and the cost of staff and contractors employed by the government. Nor does it include the new stop to be built at Mitchell, for which $4.8 million was announced in the recent budget.
The report also lists safety incidents during construction, including hitting underground street light cabling, telecommunication cabling, a gas main and a water main, a "track welding incident", a high-voltage conduit strike, drug and alcohol test failures, a pedestrian hit during testing and near misses.
The extra claims made by Canberra Metro include $20 million for delays related to moving underground pipes and wires, $7.5 million for extra drainage work, and $22 million for "unanticipated additional resourcing". On top of that, changes meant an extra $3.9 million for new stop designs and $1 million for changes to street furniture.
The report said the public-private partnership had been the right model but it was not necessarily the best approach for all future stages of light rail, with each decided case by case.
Under the heading "challenges", the report pointed to managing traffic disruption, and said thought should be given to how to "encourage contractors to maintain a tidy site appearance" during construction.
It had been challenging attracting and retaining specialist staff given it was for a single project, the heated infrastructure market across the country, and uncertainty about whether the project would go ahead in the lead-up to the 2016 election.