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City tram expansion could blow out by $44 million

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The State Government says problems with the city tram extension’s signalling system could result in a cost blowout of $44 million on the long-delayed project.

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Transport Minister Stephan Knoll said today the total cost of the tram extension – to the Adelaide Festival Centre and along North Terrace to the old Royal Adelaide Hospital site – could cost as much as $124 million.

Blaming the previous Labor government, Knoll said the exact cost was yet to be finalised.

“There is testing that has been going on over the past weeks,” he said. “That testing has been going extremely well but we are taking a cautious approach to this given the fact that we’ve found a number of signalling faults that occurred when installation happened.

“We’re currently working through a claims and variations process with the contractor to come to a final number and $44 million is the upper limit of what it could cost to clean up Labor’s mess. We are working to reduce that figure.

“We’re talking about spending potentially up to $124 million dollars to lay a kilometre of track. I don’t think any South Australian would think that that’s a good use of money.”

There is still no start date for the tram extension, which became an $80 million project under the previous Labor Government, including $10 million to speed up construction.

That premium didn’t appear to have any effect, with the tram’s opening being delayed on numerous occasions this year.

“Labor tried to rush this job and they botched it,” Knoll said.

He said the project would be reviewed, once it was complete, to ensure similar mistakes weren’t made in future projects.

Labor’s Tom Koutsantonis, who gatecrashed Knoll’s media conference on the issue at Parliament House today, tried to turn the blame back on the current Government.

“You’ve now seen Mr Knoll come up with another excuse about the tram extension, trying to blame everything on Labor after the parliament announced a ‘no excuses’ government,” he said. “But now all we’re getting from the minister is excuses.

“Quite frankly, if he has a report saying that it went wrong under Labor, release it. Release it to all the journalists so that we can see this report.

“They have overpromised and they can’t deliver. They’ve wrecked it. At what point does this minister take any responsibility for his own actions, at what point does this minister ever say that it is his fault.”

Knoll said he was “very, very close” to announcing an opening date for the extension.

“We are extremely close to having a start date,” he said. “We are working through the final kinks and we want to make sure that we protect the taxpayers, that we get the tram line that South Australians are now paying an exorbitant amount for.”

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