'Network Rail is making our lives a misery' - say Old Sodbury residents fed up with 17-month repair works
PEOPLE living next to a railway line where repair works have been ongoing for more than a year are calling on Network Rail to stop making their lives ‘a misery’.
Old Sodbury residents whose homes back on to the Chipping Sodbury Tunnel on the main Bristol to London line have put up with the stabilisation works since November 2012. They were told, at a meeting with rail operator Network Rail in August that year, that the repairs would only take three months but 17 months later, the project is showing no signs of completion.
Nigel Paling, whose house on Badminton Road backs onto the site where a 25feet mound of stockpiled earth currently sits, told the Gazette: “It is ridiculous.
“Over the last year, residents have had to put up with noise and light pollution from workmen who would start at midnight and work through to 4am in the morning. At one stage this happened every night for a period of two weeks and seriously affected local residents who were suffering from sleep deprivation.”
Mr Paling, who has lived in the village for 14 years, added: “I am also concerned at the amount of HGV trucks that will be required to remove the thousands of tonnes of stockpiled earth which increases daily.
“Badminton Road is a very busy road with many accidents over the years, this amount of additional slow heavy traffic is a major incident waiting to happen.”
Born and bred in Old Sodbury, Emma Grandesso moved back to the village four years ago to raise her family but says she wished she had never bought the house which borders the work site.
“If you buy a house near a railway line you expect the noise of trains and some disruption,” she said. “But this has just been going on for too long. They were supposed to have finished before my daughter was born and in three weeks she will be one.”
Mrs Grandesso added: “They have put a generator right next to our house, not even in our garden, so there is a constant hum and they use spot lights throughout the night. It is like sleeping in a shopping mall.
“It is 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We have workman walking up and down our garden, we just want some privacy back.”
Residents have expressed concern that Network Rail is purposely keeping the site open for use during the electrification of the line in 2015. They are also worried that the recent flooding crisis, and particularly the rebuilding needed at Dawlish in Devon, will delay the works still further.
Sodbury town councillor for Old Sodbury, Paul Tiley, said: “I have had lots of complaints from residents about this.
“My main worry is we have already a couple of bad accidents on Badminton Road, partly due to being held up by large vehicles.
“It is a very fast road and all the mud these vehicles are spreading does not help.”
A Network Rail spokeswoman said a delay between August and November last year was due to needing a licence after finding rare crested newts on site and a diversion of freight trains because of a closed line meant work could not only be carried out at night, during the hours of least train movement.
She said: “We are carrying out essential work of £4million to stabilise the embankment and expand the drainage system to alleviate flood risk to the railway around Chipping Sodbury. This work will significantly improve the resilience of the railway against impact from extreme weather.
“Following the extreme weather incident 2012, more work and therefore more time was needed to repair the infrastructure.
“Whilst our progress was recently hampered by a combination of unforeseen factors, our engineers remain undeterred to complete the work as quickly as possible with an aim to minimise the impact on the community.”
Network Rail said further geotechnical failures and the bad weather so far this year have meant the works will now not be completed until the end of May 2014.