News State New South Wales Sydney light rail filled home with diesel fumes overnight, inquiry told

Sydney light rail filled home with diesel fumes overnight, inquiry told

sydney light rail
Residents say they've been ignored, treated with contempt and forced to live like "lab rats" during the construction. Photo: Sydney Light Rail
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A Sydney resident woke to his home full of diesel fumes coming from overnight construction on the troubled light rail project, a parliamentary inquiry has heard.

Andrew Jordan said his Kensington home had become unliveable since construction began on the $2.1 billion connection.

“I woke up at midnight and my home was full of diesel fumes,” Mr Jordan told the New South Wales inquiry on Wednesday.

He blamed a portable light generator set up beneath his home, and said it took five phone calls for it to be turned off at 1am.

Overnight noise in his home regularly reaches 90dB, he said, four times that of a lawnmower at the same distance.

On one occasion he measured noise at 101dB, similar to a jackhammer from a metre away.

“I live less than 10 metres from the construction zone. In some cases they’ve been working 20 centimetres from my property.”

sydney light rail construction
Andrew Jordan (centre) said he was woken at midnight to his Kensington home full of diesel fumes. Photo: AAP

Mr Jordan claimed to have recorded more than 200 regulatory breaches since 2015, including the blocking of a fire exit.

“Their behaviour is consistent with, ‘We can do whatever we want, and the residents can’t do anything about it’.

They’ve got contempt for us.”

A NSW Transport spokesperson said the contracted consortium needed to ensure all planning approvals and licensing obligations are adhered to.

Randwick resident Diana Argirellis said she was told to keep doors and windows permanently closed to mitigate noise from a nearby stabling yard.

They are making us live like lab rats,” she told the inquiry.
sydney light rail nsw inquiry
Randwick resident Diana Argirellis said her family as forced to live like “lab rats”. Photo: AAP

Another Randwick resident, Annette Keay, said neighbours had given up attending meetings with project management or calling the government hotline.

“Nothing happens and you don’t feel listened to,” she said.

“I see my neighbours and they’ve had three hours’ sleep [overnight].”

NSW Transport said noise and vibrations are assessed and property treatments are offered where required.

The department has made more than 8000 offers to provide alternative accommodation to affected residents during night work.

There are 750 businesses along the alignment. Some have closed since temporary fencing went up and the noise and dust started.

The government has paid 96 small businesses more than $12 million in compensation, as at September 28.

That averages about $125,000 each.

Brian Brennan, who oversees the operator of the system, told the inquiry he was moved by the residents’ stories but pleaded with MPs to look to the future.

sydney light rail
Construction on the 12-kilometre stretch of light rail started in 2015. Photo: Sydney Light Rail

He said light rail was the preferred mode of transport in his home city of Dublin.

“Light rail works,” the Transdev Sydney managing director said.

NSW Transport said the noisiest work is generally done during the day and early evenings.

“However, weekend and night work is necessary at times for safety reasons and to reduce impacts on Sydney’s transport and traffic networks,” the spokesperson said in a statement to The New Daily.

“Where night work is necessary, mitigation measures are put in place to reduce impacts on residents.”

The inquiry on Thursday will hear from Spanish subcontractor Acciona and department bureaucrats.

The light rail was meant to be completed by 2019 but has been pushed back to March 2020.

The 12-kilometre line was originally budgeted to cost $1.6 billion before a $500 million blowout.

Acciona is seeking an extra $1.2 billion from the NSW government, arguing it was misled over the complexity of the project.

-with AAP

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