Cost of Unanderra lifts rises by $5.1mil

The cost to install lifts at Unanderra railway station has jumped to $16.5 million, RailCorp has revealed.

The figure is $5.1 million more than the amount committed by the then NSW Labor government in 2009 when it announced $11.4 million for a station upgrade that included new lifts.

However, those campaigning for the new station access said yesterday the costs increase should not be used as an excuse not to install the lifts.

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The state government’s $770 million Transport Access Program has already provided funding for a new $39 million station at Flinders and upgrades at Dapto, Albion Park, Kiama, Oak Flats and Gerringong stations.

A RailCorp spokeswoman said the original upgrade at Unanderra station, due to take 18 months, was announced in June 2009, before detailed studies had been undertaken.

In September 2010, water, gas and signal cables were discovered under the planned lift pits, resulting in the need for a redesign and increased project cost.

“RailCorp completed a redesign for Unanderra station in September 2011 and found the estimated cost of the project would need to increase to approximately $16.5 million,” she said.

The spokeswoman said all station access projects were reviewed by the newly formed integrated transport authority, Transport for NSW, as part of the establishment of the Transport Access Program.

“The program ensures decisions about future access upgrades are integrated and based on evidence-based criteria.”

Wollongong MP Noreen Hay said yesterday she had never been told the lifts would now cost $16.5 million.

“No-one had suggested there was a cost blow-out … but quite frankly if it is $16 million then so be it,” she said.

“You can’t argue patronage when you obstruct patrons getting on the train.

“The reality is aged, frail and disabled have to get taxis to Dapto or Wollongong to access the train.”

South Coast Labour Council secretary Arthur Rorris said $16 million was “a small price to pay” to get around a ridiculous situation. “If that train station was built by anyone else it would be condemned,” he said.

Transport Minister Gladys Berejiklian said she was unable to meet with Mr Rorris or fellow campaigners regarding the Unanderra railway station upgrade.

However, she said the station was another example of Labor announcing projects without doing its homework.

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