Comptroller: Improper assessments led to cost overruns and delays in Tel Aviv light rail line

Red line is estimated to run over budget by 3.7 b NIS.

tel aviv light rail_311 (photo credit: (Neta-Metropolitan Mass Transit System))
tel aviv light rail_311
(photo credit: (Neta-Metropolitan Mass Transit System))
The failure to carry out work assessments is partly responsible for the cost overruns and delays in completion of the Tel Aviv Light Rail Red Line, according to the State Comptroller’s Report issued on Tuesday.
The project is expected to exceed its budget by billions of shekels and to be up and running years later than originally planned.
The Red Line is to be the first section of the Tel Aviv metropolitan light rail system. It will run from Bat Yam in the south to the central bus station in Petah Tikva in the north.
The government approved the NIS 10.7 billion contract in December 2010 for NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System Ltd to build the line, with completion scheduled for 2017. Assessments made last January indicate, however, that the project will run over budget by NIS 3.7b. and that its opening will be pushed back between three and five years, the Comptroller’s Report said.
The Dutch auditor for the project said last January that the system won’t be up and running before 2023.
The report attributes the delays and the cost overruns in part to the failure of the Transportation Ministry and NTA Metropolitan Mass Transit System to adequately assess the costs of the project. The documents brought to the cabinet for approval in December 2010 did not take into account dealing with groundwater contamination, compensation for business owners located next to the train lines, and other considerations.
In addition, the government has only signed agreements with four of the five local authorities whose territory the Red Line will cross and financial contracts have only been signed with two of the five, the report states.
In addition, NTA did not formulate guidelines about funding, manpower recruitment and training, travel costs and other expenses.
The report adds that the government did not carry out a thorough enough examination to check if NTA is capable of carrying out the project and if it has the necessary knowledge or experience to do so.
The Transportation Ministry said on Tuesday it had read the report and that while working on the Red Line it was learning from the mistakes made during the construction of the Jerusalem Light Rail.
It added that since the cabinet decision in December 2010, the relevant government and private bodies have held weekly half-day discussions into the issues dealing with the Red Line construction.
The original NIS 10.7b. estimate did not take into account the real hazards and expenses of the project and it was NTA that made the updated figures available to the relevant decision- makers, the ministry said.