Sunday, October 9, 2011

Rail Noise

Following is an extract from a letter by John Hay of the Cowan Rail Noise Steering Committee:

Dear Sir,

I was very interested in your comments about rail noise and acknowledge your Association’s agreement to join with us and possibly other community groups in a combined approach to the Government, to have rail noise properly controlled.

I found the letter from the Minister for Transport to Mr. Beringer (ML11/04676 -19 Sep), very informative, especially the statement that “The Freight and Regional Development Division (F.&.R.D.D.) of the new Transport for New South Wales will lead the development of strategic plans for freight and will be responsible for freight regulation management including emissions, noise and compliance standards.”

The Minister is to be congratulated for taking this step. For residents affected by “wheel squeal” and other noises from freight train operations this is good news. It is the first step away from RailCorp and its involvement with rail noise and freight management.

As mentioned in my earlier email, Cowan residents have been complaining to RailCorp about rail noise since early 2009, and in July 2010 were told about the Beecroft monitoring system. I noticed the Minister also raised this in her letter to Mr. Beringer.  Of note is the fact that Beecroft monitoring commenced nearly 4 years ago and still wheel noise is a problem.

In the Minister’s letter reference is also made “to a device that applies lubricant to rails at curves in the track.” From information on RailCorp’s website this technology is known as a “friction modifier device”. Even after 15 years of use and various stages of improvement, RailCorp is still unable to combat wheel noise.

On 22 August 2011 Mr. Matt Kean M.P. Member for Hornsby, advised a meeting of Cowan residents of a proposal by RailCorp to trial two Top Of Rail Friction Modifier Applicators (T.O.R.F.M.A.) to the rails at Cowan. These units place a small amount of a lubricant type solution to the top of the rail rather than on the inside edge.

The substance of the proposal by RailCorp was for the trial to be conducted over 12 months and to provide quarterly updates to the community on the progress of the trial. The residents accepted the proposal with the proviso that the trial lasts no more than 6 months and should it not be successful that the noise improvement program be outsourced to a third party.

This conclusion highlights the point of frustration that Cowan residents have now reached from their dealings with RailCorp. Residents look forward to a positive response from the Minister regarding their conditional acceptance of the T.O.R.F.M.A. trial. 

As Cowan residents have exhausted all trust in RailCorp, it is the reason why we want to move to the E.P.A. for rail noise management or, as now mentioned in the Minister’s letter to
Mr. Beringer, possibly to the new F.&.R.D.D. for a more positive outcome.

As the new F.&.R.D.D appears to be in its infancy it might be an ideal opportunity for a combined community approach to be made to the Minister for Transport, requesting that the community at large have some input into the level of rail noise it is prepared to accept and how it should be regulated.  I propose to again contact other interested groups shortly.

In closing, I hope the above comments are of some assistance to you and members of your Association. I trust that we may keep in touch particularly on the progress of a combined community group for dealing with rail noise issues.

John Hay
Cowan Rail Noise
Steering Committee

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