RailCorp’s ten largest ICT projects are now collectively $14.8 million over budget, with a total projected cost of $105 million, according to a recent report released by the State’s Auditor General.
According to the financial audit report into NSW transport and ports agencies, which was released on 30 November 2011, seven out of RailCorp’s ten largest ICT projects are running behind schedule, and only three projects were listed as running either on or under-budget.
The biggest cost blowout was experienced by the Station Passenger Information Rollout program, which has more than doubled its original budget of $8.7 million to over $18.4 million. The Auditor General has attributed this rise to a 24 month delay in the term of project that was caused by an expansion of the project’s original scope.
Timeliness was also shown to be an issue within other RailCorp ICT projects as well, with four of the projects running two years or more behind their original target completion dates. The tardiest project, stages one and two of the Virtual Plan Room development, is now expected to be completed by December 2012, 32 months after its original completion date of April 2010.
The delay was partly attributed to a seven month deadlock in negotiations between RailCorp and the preferred supplier, according to the Report. The Virtual Plan Room program is also currently running $0.8 million over budget.
The budget blowout was eased somewhat with RailCorp revising down cost estimates for its Common Telemetry Infrastructure Program,which is now expected to cost $19 million, down from its original budget of $22.7 million.
As well as costing the Public Transport Ticketing Corporation (PTTC) a fortune in legal costs, the aftermath of the failed of the T-Card electronic ticketing system has also set RailCorp back $6.4 million, which it has had to spend on replacing automatic ticketing machines.
The projected cost for the Expansion & Support for the Automatic Ticketing Machine program is now expected to reach $27.4 million, making it RailCorp’s most expensive ICT project according to the report.
The Auditor General’s Report also revealed that RailCorp exceeded its forecast budget for ICT Support Systems by $1.4 million during the 2010-11 financial year, with actual expenditure reaching $6.9 million.
In a refreshing twist to the history of e-ticketing implementations in Australia, the successor to the failed T-Card system, the $1.2 billion Electronic Ticketing System is currently on budget and on time, according Report.
The Opal smartcard system is expected to be completed by the second half of 2014, with the project so far avoiding the multitude of issues that have so far plagued other attempts to implement an electronic ticketing system within Australian public transportation systems, including the T-Card and Victoria’s Myki system.
The original T-Card project was scrapped by the PTTC on 23 January 2008 due to excessive costs and missed deadlines. A court hearing between the PTTC and the contractor responsible for the T-Card system will take place in February 2012, if scheduled mediation is not successful, and is expected to last for more than three months.
Unsurprisingly, the NSW Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian has attributed many of the faults identified in the report to the actions of the previous State Government.
"We know our transport system does not work as it should which is why we have established the new integrated transport authority, Transport for NSW,” said Berejiklian in a press release.
Transport for NSW was formally restructured as of 1 November 2011.