IA assessments questionable

The Geelong Branch of the Public Transport Users Association has queried the logic of Infrastructure Australia’s negative response to the business case for the duplication of the South Geelong-Waurn Ponds rail line.

Branch convener Paul Westcott noted that Infrastructure Australia seems to be saying that the project would stack up if some changes were made.

“If they are saying that certain modifications to the business case would lead to them supporting the project, why couldn’t they assess the project with the changes they themselves suggest?” Mr Westcott said.

Mr Westcott also criticised the State government for not having quantified some obvious benefits of the project in the business case, which has led Infrastructure Australia to require more work to be done on it.

“The State government must urgently revise the business case, taking Infrastructure Australia’s comments into account, ensuring the project can be assessed on its true merits,” Mr Westcott said.

“However, it’s good that both sides of politics continue to back the project that will see more trains running to stations South of Geelong, including to Colac and Warrnambool, and help them run more reliably.”

Mr Westcott also pointed to apparent inconsistencies in Infrastructure Australia’s assessment of projects.

“They are happy to keep the East-West Link toll road in Melbourne on their priority list, despite the fact that is has a cost-benefit ratio of only 50 cents in the dollar.

“Even worse, the duplication of the highway to Colac, also funded by federal money, will only return about eight cents in the dollar.”

Mr Westcott said the way Infrastructure Australia assesses projects seems questionable. “While economically doubtful road schemes are given the green light, sustainable transport projects seem to be viewed with less sympathy.”