Maldon-Dombarton study based on old data

The unfinished Maldon-Dombarton freight line ... a federal assessment on the line was based on information that was three years old. Picture: Ben Rushton
The unfinished Maldon-Dombarton freight line ... a federal assessment on the line was based on information that was three years old. Picture: Ben Rushton

A federal assessment on the benefits of the Maldon-Dombarton freight line was made using information that was three years old.

The revelation was part of the quizzing of Roads and Freight Minister Melinda Pavey at a state budget estimates meeting earlier this month.

The Minister told the meeting that Infrastructure Australia carried out a benefit-cost analysis on the much talked about freight rail line earlier this year.

That review found the costs of building the line outweighed any benefits and so did not include it on the organisation’s infrastructure priority list.

However, it was revealed at the budget estimates meeting that this analysis was based on a 2013 business case supplied by the state government.

READ MORE: Maldon-Dombarton is the key for freight

The minister and officials from Transport for NSW were questioned as to whether it was good practice to carry out a cost-benefit analysis on three-year-old data.

“If there had been a significant uplift from 2014 to the current day we would review that and that would give us an opportunity to do another business case,” Ms Pavey said.

“But we know what the rail figures are. If there was a significant uplift that would be an appropriate time to do that.”

Officials from Transport for NSW did not know if Infrastructure Australia had been supplied with updated data to make their determination.

A spokeswoman from Infrastructure Australia said this year’s assessment was carried out based on the 2013 study – no updated information was supplied by Transport for NSW.

“In the absence of our proponents providing us with newer information, we undertake our own analysis to determine the accuracy of the assumptions and forecasts used in the business case,” the spokeswoman said.

“ As set out in the evaluation summary, the freight demand forecasts from 2014 do not reflect current market conditions, and are likely to be overstated.

“We would welcome the submission of an updated business case, including an updated economic appraisal.”

Wollongong MP Paul Scully said this information showed the government’s approach to moving the Maldon-Dombarton line forward “just keeps getting murkier and murkier”.

“I’ve said before that the Maldon-Dombarton rail link is the most cursed infrastructure project in the country,” Mr Scully said.

“It is time that we had a clear and transparent process for an analysis of the Maldon-Dombarton rail project, not the current state of confusion between the NSW and Federal governments.”