Victorian desal plant and east-west link disasters are off the rails. What about Doncaster Rail?

 

News article: Victorian desal plant and east-west link disasters are off the rails. What about Doncaster Rail?

Secrecy in public policy-making involves the corruption of proper process.

  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia
Secrecy in public policy-making involves the corruption of proper process. Victorians would be horrified if they knew more about the costs of the water desalination contract and the disaster involved in the (apparently bipartisan) determination to enter an equally disastrous contract to build the east-west road link.

Its big drawback would appear to be that it doesn't cost enough. It is clear that the investment bankers and superannuation funds - which have incredible liquidity thanks to compulsory superannuation - are reluctant to invest in government bonds yielding about 4 per cent when they can bamboozle silly state governments into deals that can yield 8 to 12 per cent. They use the bogus argument that states shouldn't go into debt.

It defies logic. The government is paying $650 million a year for a desalination plant for no water. Even now, the government could refinance the debt with long term, 25-year bonds at 4 per cent. This would cost $380 million a year. The net saving would free up $270 million a year - enough to finance the Doncaster railway and to replace 50 suburban level crossings, and leave money to spare.
Victorian desal plant and east-west link disasters are off the rails. What about Doncaster Rail?


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The previous Labour government left us with a huge debt when it comes to the Desal plant.  The way the dams look currently it could be some years before the good people of Melbourne ever need to buy an water from the plant.  Despite this, will are paying a whopping $650m per annum for the right to take some water. An unacceptable financial legacy left by a poorly performing government approaching the end of its tenure. Their time was up.

I love reading Kenneth Davidson.  Such a practical thinker.

So why haven't the budget conscious and reportedly financially superior liberal government (arguably a one term government by the looks) keen on adopting Kenneth's idea and refinancing the deSal plant at a time when interest rates are low and going lower.

(BTW Ross Garnaut has just released his new book Dog Days (http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/breakfast/ross-garnaut-dog-days/5093570 which looks very interesting)

The DeSal plant was Labour's poor legacy, the east west road tunnel (if it is built) will be the Liberal Parties.

Refinance the white elephant in South Gippsland and start building projects the people of Victoria desperately need. Doncaster would be a better choice than the east west road tunnel, but the better choice would be a combined metro rail tunnel with Doncaster included.

Regards
Brian

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  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
Refinance the white elephant in South Gippsland and start building projects the people of Victoria desperately need. Doncaster would be a better choice than the east west road tunnel, but the better choice would be a combined metro rail tunnel with Doncaster included.
bevans
Perhaps a better choice would be the MM tunnel combined with a rollout of single-track duplication projects?

Whilst Doncaster might be needed, I feel it is more important to get the existing system up to scratch either before or at the same time as expanding it.
  Lad_Porter Chief Commissioner

Location: Yarra Glen
Forgot to mention the North-South pipeline ....

However, a point of clarification on this bit:

"The architects of the east-west link have decided in their wisdom to increase the number of lanes each way from two to three. And therefore, the Eastern Freeway ''funnel'' into the tunnel will have its lanes increased from two to three.

Bingo! Our car-mad politicians, and the banksters and superannuation fund managers who want to repeat the financial boondoggle of the desal plant, can kill two birds with one stone. Not only is peak traffic through the system increased from 4000 to 6000 an hour, but the extra lanes on the Eastern Freeway will be built over the grass verge in the middle, making the construction of the Doncaster rail link impossible."

The map shows that the tunnel is to start at Gold Street, which is to the west of the railway line, and at a point where the freeway ends and becomes Alexandra Pde, indeed two lanes in each direction.  However, the Doncaster rail line, if it ever eventuated, would go eastwards from the Clifton Hill line, and I believe could enter the freeway reserve at a point where there are already three (or more) lanes of traffic in each direction.  With a bit of planning (perhaps an oxymoron, but possible), the reservation for a railway line need not be compromised, unless the existing freeway is also to be widened.  I'm not for a moment in favour of the tunnel, just saying that the tunnel and a rail line to Doncaster could co-exist.

By the way, the political party here is the Labor Party.  The Labour Party is a political party in the U.K.
  nswtrains Chief Commissioner

Perhaps a better choice would be the MM tunnel combined with a rollout of single-track duplication projects?

Whilst Doncaster might be needed, I feel it is more important to get the existing system up to scratch either before or at the same time as expanding it.
railblogger
It is reminiscent of the de-sal plant in Sydney. At the time it was proposed the dams were down to less than 30% capacity and falling fast with no end to the drought in sight. Of course after the plant was almost completed the drought broke and then there was a chorus of nay sayers complaining it was a waste of money. The only waste was how it was built as a public money give away where the chosen operator was to be paid whether the plant was operating or not.

Governments of all persuasions should halt this adversity to funding public infrastructure projects through borrowings as the public is going to suffer from the lack of government spending on public transport infrastructure or more poorly thought out projects built because there is a short term return to the private operator which may not be in the long term public interest.

The Federal Liberal/National coalition have won power by a great big lie that Australia's debt situation is a dire financial emergency, and now they are in power they are proposing to increase the debt situation and the emergency has appeared to have disappeared. But no spending on badly needed public transport rail projects because the "Mad Abbott" reckons that the coalition only funds roads. And I am not in any way supporting Labor as it was disgraceful how they threw away public support for them mainly by Rudd's duplicity. The public will not support any government that is dis-united.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Doncaster rail isn't a good use of public funds - it's not in a growth area (unless there's some serious relaxation of planning laws) and the civil works involved are way too costly. Want quality public transport for that area? Extend the route 48 tram to the Doncaster Park & Ride and beef up the DART system a bit more. If the people of Doncaster thumb their noses at the prospect of more buses, offer to build a surface light rail line along the Eastern Freeway and Alexandra Parade that connects Swanston St with the Park & Ride. It's expensive and a bit of a waste of funds, but certainly will cost less than putting heavy rail out to Doncaster.

As for:

but the better choice would be a combined metro rail tunnel with Doncaster included.
bevans
This makes very little sense. Why bother doing them together? It's the Melbourne Metro + Tullamarine rail line thing all over again. Much cheaper alternatives to using Melbourne Metro exist for both.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Doncaster rail isn't a good use of public funds - it's not in a growth area (unless there's some serious relaxation of planning laws) and the civil works involved are way too costly. Want quality public transport for that area? Extend the route 48 tram to the Doncaster Park & Ride and beef up the DART system a bit more. If the people of Doncaster thumb their noses at the prospect of more buses, offer to build a surface light rail line along the Eastern Freeway and Alexandra Avenue that connects Swanston St with the Park & Ride. It's expensive and a bit of a waste of funds, but certainly will cost less than putting heavy rail out to Doncaster.

As for:

This makes very little sense. Why bother doing them together? It's the Melbourne Metro + Tullamarine rail line thing all over again. Much cheaper alternatives to using Melbourne Metro exist for both.
LancedDendrite
I can't see the logic of building a heavy rail tunnel from the Doncaster Park and Ride to Doncaster Shopping Centre !
(You don't build tunnels at the end of above ground rail routes, It not like Doncaster Is the centre of the universe)

Extending Tram route #48 to Doncaster (that's a Liberal Plan) and South down "TRAM ROAD" to route #109 at Box Hill

Running a light rail line down the Eastern Freeway from Doncaster Park and Ride right though to Alexandra Road could be a very good cost effective Idea, the light rail line could go all the way West link up with Racecourse Road tram line (this line would Interchange with 7 existing tram routes)

Do the DART buses connect with Victoria Park Station ?
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
Running a light rail line down the Eastern Freeway from Doncaster Park and Ride right though to Alexandra Road could be a very good cost effective Idea, the light rail line could go all the way West link up with Racecourse Road tram line (this line would Interchange with 7 existing tram routes)
Nightfire
I reckon that you could probably almost get away with taking it along Alexandra Parade and Princes St (the latter being rather difficult, but certainly possible) until it hits the 1/8 tram route at Lygon St. Then, take it down onto Swanston St where it meets up with the rest of the network proper. And link it up at the Park and Ride with the 48 to form a massive loop route, because you may as well.

That plan is really expensive compared to upgrading DART with more dedicated bus lanes though. DART should become a full-on Bus Rapid Transit service - you don't need bendy buses or Adelaide O-Bahns though. Just a bunch of dedicated, fenced-off bus lanes and proper stations with Myki machines.

But of course, the good people of Doncaster want a train. Why? Because trains seem to be frequent and fast. Image is everything and buses, as they stand today in Melbourne, are on the nose. The SmartBus is a good start though.

Do the DART buses connect with Victoria Park Station ?
Nightfire
Yes, all of them do (905/6/7/8 ) and all but one of them (the 907) also connect with Collingwood Station.
  Edith Chief Commissioner

Location: Line 1 from Porte de Vincennes bound for Bastille station


So why haven't the budget conscious and reportedly financially superior liberal government (arguably a one term government by the looks) keen on adopting Kenneth's idea and refinancing the deSal plant at a time when interest rates are low and going lower.


bevans

Aquasure refinanced its debt in October and some legal claims with the government were resolved.  This promises some savings for Victorians, but not as much as Ken Davidson's proposal.  If I recall correctly it is a "take or pay (the interest on the debt)" contract.

I have just seen the PPP plans for the East-West Tunnel / Royal Park Freeway.  The government will effectively lease the road/link/tunnel from the builder for a known payment each year and collect the tolls (whatever they are) for its own use.  It is a take AND pay contract.  Victorian drivers pay tolls and Victorian tax payers will pick up the difference between the tolls and the fixed payment.  It is obvious that the tolls will be heavily subsidised as the link is too expensive and too short to make full tolls more attractive than rat racing.
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
I have just seen the PPP plans for the East-West Tunnel / Royal Park Freeway.  The government will effectively lease the road/link/tunnel from the builder for a known payment each year and collect the tolls (whatever they are) for its own use.  It is a take AND pay contract.  Victorian drivers pay tolls and Victorian tax payers will pick up the difference between the tolls and the fixed payment.  It is obvious that the tolls will be heavily subsidised as the link is too expensive and too short to make full tolls more attractive than rat racing.
The toll needs to be $13 one way there abouts for the numbers to add up on paper.

But how many people Is going too spend $26 a day on tolls for their daily commute ?

The owners of Clem Jones Tunnel tried everything they could to boaster their toll revenue to balance the books, but drivers just didn't want to pay tolls so the company went belly up.

The Government claims the metro tunnel won't generate any revenue for the State Treasury, well people will have to pay to use It, so that claim Is partly wrong (PTV/MYKI fares won't cover capital costs, maybe not even running costs) BUT THE Government Isn't telling the public about how much EW Link Is going to cost the State Treasury and the very shaky claims that traffic congestion will be reduced (when new reports state the tunnel will Increase the number of vehicles on the Eastern, Tullamaine, Citylink and Eastlink Freeways)
  Flagstaff Red Afro

Location: Eaglemont, Hursty line, Melbourne.
Having followed railways for many years and observed the persistent nature for the government to favour roads, these are the reasons I've heard:
- Victoria being the roads capital
- Government favouring roads because they happen to be part of the rich
- Road lobby being too effective compared to PT lobby (thank-you 'Revenue')
- Roads having a sexual appeal (seriously, I read this in a newspaper)
- People who realise rail as reducing road congestion being in the minority

Now we've got, 'the investors manipulating the government's decision by making them waste money'.  This is certainly great news for railways if the general public's desirability for PT has forced the established list of reasons to spill into something ridiculous.

As for building the Doncaster Railway line, one only has to look at South Morang as evidence a potential station in Doncaster will be very highly used.  South Morang station with a smaller catchment area than Doncaster has reached capacity now.  Not in the future when the population around it increases, Now.
  railblogger Chief Commissioner

Location: At the back of the train, quitely doing exactly what you'd expect.
The toll needs to be $13 one way there abouts for the numbers to add up on paper.

But how many people Is going too spend $26 a day on tolls for their daily commute ?

The owners of Clem Jones Tunnel tried everything they could to boaster their toll revenue to balance the books, but drivers just didn't want to pay tolls so the company went belly up.

The Government claims the metro tunnel won't generate any revenue for the State Treasury, well people will have to pay to use It, so that claim Is partly wrong (PTV/MYKI fares won't cover capital costs, maybe not even running costs) BUT THE Government Isn't telling the public about how much EW Link Is going to cost the State Treasury and the very shaky claims that traffic congestion will be reduced (when new reports state the tunnel will Increase the number of vehicles on the Eastern, Tullamaine, Citylink and Eastlink Freeways)
Nightfire
Personally I think the government is being given false figures by the road lobby/road-based industries. Somebody needs to tell the government that all they want is to make a billion bucks more, and these groups that improving PT might actually benefit them.
  LancedDendrite Chief Commissioner

Location: Gheringhap Loop Autonomous Zone
As for building the Doncaster Railway line, one only has to look at South Morang as evidence a potential station in Doncaster will be very highly used.  South Morang station with a smaller catchment area than Doncaster has reached capacity now.  Not in the future when the population around it increases, Now.
Flagstaff
South Morang cost $0.562 billion. A railway line to Doncaster? $3-5 billion between Victoria Park and the Doncaster Park & Ride at a minimum. It doesn't look viable to me.
Of course, if the Doncastrians wish to have their rail line regardless, they could always help fund it through an increase in council rates...
  Nightfire Minister for Railways

Location: Gippsland
Personally I think the government is being given false figures by the road lobby/road-based industries. Somebody needs to tell the government that all they want is to make a billion bucks more, and these groups that improving PT might actually benefit them.
railblogger
Isn't It 100'000 vehicles a day they are claiming that will use the tunnel each working weekday ?

When the Eastern Freeway carries 135'000 vehicles each working weekday, with about 60% heading towards the City.
The Government Is going to need about 50'000 more vehicles to use the Eastern Freeway to support their traffic volume claims ! and that Is what they call easing traffic congestion.
  bevans Site Admin

Location: Melbourne, Australia

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