The cost of disruptions by Sydney’s CBD light rail project on retailers has been revealed for the first time in Supreme Court documents from a business suing the government for $4 million over the delayed $2.1 billion project.
Watches of Switzerland at the Four Seasons Hotel complex on George Street, is claiming profits fell by more than half, to $1.3 million in the 2016-17 financial year, down from above $3 million in the previous year.
Work on the light rail began in that location, near Circular Quay, in March 2016 and was due to finish in April this year. The project is now at least a year behind schedule and not due for completion until March 2020 at the earliest.
Fairfax Media reports that Watches of Switzerland is the first retailer to launch legal action against the government and Transport for NSW over the 12-kilometre project. Other small businesses are considering a class action over the strife-ridden project, which is suffering from budget blowouts, time delays and multiple legal disputes.
Spanish subcontractor Acciona is suing the government for more than $1 billion in compensation for “misleading or deceptive conduct” over the contract to design and build the line.
The Watches of Switzerland statement of claim filed in the NSW Supreme Court, says the business has and will continue to “suffer substantial loss and damages” from the project and the conduct of Transport for NSW amounts to a “public nuisance and an unreasonable interference”, Fairfax reports.
Transport for NSW plans to defend the legal action.
Retailers have been offered rental assistance from the government during the construction phase, but several businesses have closed, blaming the light rail project for a loss of customers and dramatic falls in revenue.
A damning 2016 investigation into the project by the NSW Auditor-General found that because Transport for NSW planned the project to meet the government’s 2014 deadline to begin work, “meeting such a tight timeframe meant an inadequate business case, poor governance in the planning stage, and uncertain scope during tendering”.
The SMH has more on the latest dispute over the light rail here.
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