Victorians are owed an explanation on a nearly $400 million cost blowout in the past 12 months on a long-awaited order of new trams for the ancient Melbourne fleet.
The Andrews Labor Government has today slipped in a massive $370 million jump in the Project’s price tag – from $1.48 billion in 2020-21 up to $1.85 billion.
Shadow Minister for Public Transport Steph Ryan said it was a red flag from a Labor Government that’s built an unenviable reputation on failing to deliver major projects on time or on budget.
“A growing proportion of the current tram fleet is ancient and inaccessible, with officials warning for years there’s ‘considerable’ risks to safety and service delivery,” Ms Ryan said.
“But the Andrews Government has sat on its hands for years while commuters battle worsening conditions on trams that are close to half a century old and not wheelchair-accessible.
“Labor can’t manage major projects and today’s window dressing – which appears to be hundreds of millions of dollars over budget already – is cold comfort for the Victorians who are forced to travel on the ageing rolling stock that’s no longer fit-for-purpose.”
In 2021, it was reported nearly 400 of Melbourne’s 510 trams were built more than two decades ago. Some are between 40 and 50 years old.
A report in 2017 – which the Andrews Government fought to keep secret for three years – was scathing of a drop in performance “due to a lack of investment … the solution is adding to the fleet and reducing the number of trams out of service due to maintenance”.
Ms Ryan said while the Andrews Government had finally acknowledged the dire need for upgrades back in 2019, it had waited until an election year to claim it was pushing forward.
“Today’s media stunt won’t make any difference for tram, train and bus passengers dealing with delays and cancelled services,” Ms Ryan said.
“Worse still is the threat of more pain to come when the entire metro City Loop is shutdown for critical fire and safety upgrades that should have been done when patronage plummeted in the pandemic.”
In 2020, taxpayers footed up to $3 million in cancellation fees after Labor botched an order of 10 new E-class trams.
The order was cancelled after the Government admitted the trams weren’t compatible with Melbourne’s network.