mode - rail, place - australasia, economics - appraisal/evaluation
Infrastructure Australia (IA), Regional Rail Link (RRL), planning processes, evaluation processes
There is widespread agreement that Australian cities need to invest in improving their transport systems. The new Infrastructure Australia (IA) agency was established to assist in this process, by ensuring better planning and prioritisation of infrastructure projects. By far the largest urban transport project recommended for funding by IA has been the Melbourne Regional Rail Link, which forms part of a larger project together with the as-yet-unfunded Melbourne Metro.
The decision to fund the RRL has been the subject of some adverse comment, for example in recent documents from the Productivity Commission. The concerns centre on the rigour with which the need for, alternatives to, costs and benefits of the proposed rail projects have been evaluated, both at state level and by IA.
This paper reviews the planning processes that led to the Metro/RRL proposals and the awarding of Commonwealth funding for the RRL. It draws on public documents and materials released under Freedom of Information, but not on the Infrastructure Australia evaluations, which have not been made public. It concludes that the criticisms of the planning and evaluation processes appear to be correct, on the basis of the material released to date.
Mees, P. (2010). Planning for major rail projects: The Melbourne Metro and Regional Rail Link. Paper delivered at the 33rd Australasian Transport Research Forum Conference held in Canberra, on 29 September - 1 October, 2010.