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The completion of the long-delayed electrification of Adelaide's Gawler train line has now been shunted off until 2022, angering commuters who have been forced onto substitute buses since last year.
While in Opposition, Transport Minister Corey Wingard described the project to move from diesel to electric trains on the northern suburbs track as "on-again, off-again more times than my nanna's nightie".
Today, he told budget estimates the project would now be completed "early next year", instead of towards the end of 2021 as planned.
He said the state's seven-day lockdown last month was to blame, along with border closures.
"There are some technical elements of this project whereby some of the people working on it are from Victoria, NSW and Queensland, so in the shutdown they have returned to their home bases, and it will take some time to get them back as well," he said.
"Likewise, with the trains that are being built out of Victoria as well.
"We were always shooting for the end of the year. The seven-day lockdown has moved that back, so it will now be the early part of next year."
The project was first announced in 2008 under Labor and the Liberal Party at the time criticised delays in the project.
Gawler line passengers have to use substitute buses instead.(ABC News: Eugene Boisvert
)It was put off altogether after the federal government pulled its share of funding in 2013.
Work started again in 2019, and the line has been closed with services replaced by substitute buses since last December.
Rail services were meant to return in April with rolling closures but, instead, the service has been derailed for eight months.
The move to substitute buses — along with more traffic on local roads — prompted an increase in complaints about public transport earlier this year.
'Sick of' substitute buses Owen Stacey and his partner, Ami Smith, use the Gawler line to get to hospital appointments and other activities in Adelaide's CBD.
Mr Stacey said he had been refused access onto substitute buses several times because there had not been room for his wheelchair when other people had walkers or prams.
"I had to wait for the next bus, and it's happened four or five times to me — it's unbelievable," he said.
"Sometimes I just get sick of it, and I don't want to leave the house."
Owen Stacey and his partner Ami Smith say substitute buses sometimes will not let them on.(ABC News: Gabriella Marchant
)He said the state government should "pull their act together".
His partner said the state government should "pull their fingers out".
"The [Royal Adelaide] Show's coming up and it will be harder with the buses," she said.
Other projects also delayedOpposition transport spokesman Tom Koutsantonis said the delay meant the train line was closed 12 months longer than originally announced.
"Blaming COVID for it, I think, is the last refuge of a scoundrel," he said.
Labor MP Tony Piccolo said commuters were "calling this further delay a train wreck".
The electrified Flinders line extension opened last December.(ABC News: Eugene Boisvert
)Mr Wingard said government staff and contractors were "working incredibly hard to get these projects ahead of schedule, knowing and forecasting and understanding the environment we are living in whereby we can be hit with a halt at any turn".
Work has also been delayed on the Granite Island causeway, the Golden Grove Park 'n' Ride, the Main North, McIntyre and Kings roads intersection and the Dublin Saleyards Access Project.
In June, Mr Wingard axed the Hove crossing project to relieve congestion on Brighton Road after opposition from local residents in his electorate.
This article first appeared on www.abc.net.au
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