Best of the Rest: International Rail Construction Costs

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Transport
Tags: , , ,

Welcome to the first in what will hopefully be an ongoing series: Best of the rest, where every Friday I’ll be linking you to another article/story/blog post that I found interesting. These are generally going to be quite short, with a brief description and a link.

Today’s item is about construction costs of transport projects around the world. I’ve spoken about how transport construction costs in NSW are over-inflated, an issue that was raised by Jacob Saulwick in the Sydney Morning Herald last weekend. For some comparisons using 2009 dollars, the Mandurah Line in Perth (a 72km mostly above ground rail line) was built in 2007 for a cost of $15m/km, the Airport Line in Sydney (10km all underground rail line) was built in 2000 for $100m/km and the Northwest Rail Link (23km partly above ground, party below ground rail line) is currently estimated at $348m/km (I don’t think this is in 2009 dollars, so it’s a bit higher than it should be in comparison to the other two). A full list of Australiasian transport projects can be found at Transport Textbook.

It seems, however, that NSW has been outdone by the yanks, who paid $4bn/km for a new line connecting Manhattan to Queens. While this (and the others listed) are extreme cases, building anything in Manhattan is going to cost you, it is an interesting comparative to the cost blowouts here in Sydney. Check out Alon Levy’s post at Pedestrian Observations for the full list.

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Comments
  1. Tony Bailey says:

    Unfortunately, you just can’t use the total cost to compare dollars per KM. You also need to know ALL of the items that are factored into the cost.

    Most of the Mandurah line was built on existing government owned land in the middle of a freeway, which meant very little in the way of earthworks costs. There is only a short section of tunnel.

    NWRL is to have about 22 kms of tunnel.

    The SWRL has included in the price an extra depot at Auburn and rolling stock.

  2. Your facts on Mandurah simply aren’t correct. The majority of Mandurah wasn’t in the middle of a freeway. The tunnel is a km long and in the centre of Perth CBD. Half a city block had to be pulled down to accommodate the station built there. There are also two major water crossings.

    Mandurah’s final cost was $1.22bn and its engineering difficulty far outweighed anything on the 10.5km, risibly simple SWRL whose final estimated cost was $2.1bn.

    Also wrong on NWRL tunnels. The current proposal is for 15.5km of twin tunnel each with one track.

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