NSW Premier Chris Minns is under fire for refusing to guarantee the future of the Sydney Metro West project due to cost blowouts.
The 24km line, slated to open in 2030, begins at the planned Sydney CBD Hunter St metro stop and includes confirmed stops at Pyrmont, The Bays, Five Dock, Burwood North, North Strathfield, Sydney Olympic Park, Parramatta and Westmead.
However, in recent days Mr Minns has refused to rule out the possibility the $25bn project could be scrapped after citing “extreme” cost blowouts. Initially, the line was costed at $16bn.
Development on the project is ongoing, with tunnel boring machines in place at the Bay area of the project.
Mr Minns said the government’s decision would depend on the result of a review into the Sydney Metro program.
“We have to work out a way to pay for Metro West that doesn’t destroy the budget because that’s what we’ve been left with by the previous government” he said.
“If we make a decision to axe the project, then you could take my head off then, but in the meantime, let’s let this review do its job,” he said on Wednesday.
In April, Mr Minns announced a major review of the Sydney Metro program to get the “project back on track”.
Initial briefings found costs for the Metro West had nearly doubled to $25.32bn, with a cost overrun of at least $12bn, and its opening delayed to 2030.
The Sydney Metro City and Southwest routes was also revised to cost at least $9bn more than original projections.
The speculation into the future of the Sydney West Metro line comes as the state government is set to deliver its budget in September, with the Premier shadowing issues of historic levels of state debt and spending cuts.
“The bottom line is I have to work out how to pay for a project like Metro West,” Mr Minns said.
“The old way of doing things, which is to sign cheques and just let budget overruns increase into the future without any review is not working.”
In the lead-up to the state election in March, the government has already scrapped pursuing the business cases for metro lines that would service routes from western Sydney to Macarthur, and St Marys to Tallawong.
The opposition has accused the Labor government of “history repeating itself,” with the former Labor government cancelling 12 major transport projects between 1995 and 2011.
Opposition Leader Mark Speakman said the cost increases were to be expected due to the cost of labor and materials that had increased due to the pandemic and supply chain interruptions.
“Labor knew going into the election that there have been very significant increases in cost estimates,” he said.
“None of this was a secret before the election. Chris Minns knew there has been big increases in cost estimates, (but) he went to the people promising to build the West Metro (and) Southwest Metro.”