Australia’s toll toad operator Transurban revealed to SMH that the delivery timeframe for the 9km road tunnel linking the M1 and M2 motorways was under review following an update from joint venture contractor Lendlease Bouygues.
Under the original schedule, the project was set to open to motorists in December next year.
“There is potentially a delay, and obviously, the contactors are reviewing their delivery schedule,” said Scott Charlton, Transurban chief executive.
“While tunnelling is almost complete, substantial construction – such as fit out of the tunnels and surface works – was still needed before the project was completed.”
And while Charlton declined to comment further on the potential delay or whether it would result in a higher financial cost to Transurban, he insisted that the project still remained within the company’s budget.
Charlton also reiterated that the outcome of the sale of a 51% stake in WestConnex by the NSW government would not stymie Transurban’s long-term growth.
A Transurban-led consortium and another spearheaded by IFM Investors have lodged final bids with NSW treasury to buy a majority stake in WestConnex. However, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission wants until September 6 to decide whether it may block Transurban from buying WestConnex.
“We don’t believe WestConnex is critical to the ongoing growth profile. There are lots of other opportunities in Australia and North America,” Charlton adds.
“We are still confident of approval from the ACCC, but that is for the regulator to decide. Outside that, there are still plenty of other opportunities.”
Subject to approval, Transurban will also increase its equity stake in the M5 toll road in Sydney’s southwest by 8% to more than 58%, and with the state government committed to several new toll roads, Transurban is showing interest in ‘market soundings’ for the F6 Extension in Sydney’s south, and the Western Harbour Tunnel and Beaches Link to the northern beaches.
Transurban reported that toll revenue from the Sydney motorways it operates surged by 8% to $972 million in the 12 months to June, largely due to an increase in the volume of large vehicles using the toll roads.