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(AUS)Southern Cross Station to act on diesel fumes

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From The Age:

Southern Cross Station to act on diesel fumes

Clay Lucas

June 29, 2011


AFTER years of denying that diesel fumes circulating beneath Southern Cross Station's wavy roof are hurting railway employees, the company that manages the station has agreed to install extraction fans to improve air quality.

But it appears taxpayers will foot the bill for work at the station, which was built under a public-private partnership.


The move comes as the manager of the station's small food court abruptly abandoned it, well before its lease was up.


Delaware North, the company that managed the food court and was part of the original consortium to successfully bid to build Southern Cross in 2002, left the railway station last Thursday.


It is understood that among its reasons for leaving were issues with its store owners complaining about fumes.


Two commuters eating at one of only two cafes still open in the food court yesterday, Judy and Alan Buchanan from Ballarat, said the boarded-up shops gave the impression the station was run down.


Rail staff who work at Southern Cross have consistently complained of headaches and sickness as a result of diesel fumes from V/Line trains idling in the station, since it opened in 2006. Now, after a protracted campaign by the Rail, Tram and Bus Union, the station's private manager, AssetCo, has agreed to install massive extraction fans. But it wants the state government to pay.


And it appears the Department of Transport has agreed. It has already said it will fund an initial $25,000 proposal for extraction fans in some areas.


Rail union state secretary Trevor Dobbyn said AssetCo had admitted there was a problem, and had promised to fix it.


''But it's all taking too long and our members continue to report that they are suffering respiratory problems and getting sick as a consequence of exposure to diesel fumes in the station,'' he said.


AssetCo chief executive Phillip Walker yesterday rejected claims diesel fumes had led to food court manager Delaware North pulling out of the station.


''They are leaving for their own commercial strategic reasons,'' Mr Walker said.


''They are not leaving because of patronage and they are not leaving because of any issue whatsoever with fumes. We have had no issues from any of the tenants about fumes.''


A spokeswoman for Delaware North said it had left the station for ''business reasons''.


Mr Walker could not say precisely when the food court would fully reopen, but said it would be redeveloped during the next 18 months.


He also repeated his company's stance that there were no problems with diesel fumes at the station, while at the same time agreeing to works being carried out at taxpayers' expense.


''We don't believe the solution is warranted, but in good faith we are developing up a solution to bring conditioned air to those people standing in the barriers and at those offices.''


In 2006, The Age first reported that the station's roof was trapping diesel fumes, affecting the health of staff.




About bloody time! First thing you smell when you walk into the place is the diesel fumes. Hang around too long and you start to get a headache. I wonder who thought a wavey roof was a good idea :mad:

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