Tuesday, April 3, 2012


On 2 April 2012 representatives of the Trust attended a briefing on developments with the RailLink from Brendan Blakeley, Peter Bourke and Cecilia Densham of Transport NSW. Also present were representatives of Hornsby Shire Council including Councillor Robert Browne.
The Environmental Impact Statement process will take place in two stages, the first dealing with major construction work (on exhibition from 4 April) and the second with track laying, operating systems, the stations and their surrounding areas (to go on exhibition in about six months).
Our briefing dealt in some detail with proposals affecting the area around Cheltenham Oval as this is the only area in Beecroft and Cheltenham directly impacted by the proposal. An area will be required to provide emergency access, particularly for fire fighting, to the four kilometre tunnel between Epping station and Cherrybrook station. The affected area will be used as a work site during the construction of the project, specifically to enable construction of the necessary emergency services access to the rail tunnel, and will entail a two-way access road for heavy vehicles running from Kirkham Street immediately north of and parallel to the M2 alignment the west of the Oval where a construction compound will be located on the present netball courts. There will also be access for light vehicles from Castle Howard Rd along an existing road reserve on the western side of houses. Construction of the heavy vehicle access will require clearing of existing bush along the route.
There will now be no ventilation shaft, as one was earlier proposed in Beecroft.  The EIS will recommend one shaft only near the corner of Epping and Carlingford Rd instead.

A plan was produced at the meeting, but is not yet available for public release. The EIS contains the detailed plan of the proposal.
The Transport NSW representatives made clear that some 19 sites were considered before the Cheltenham site was selected. Mr Blakeley commented that it was the best of a collection of bad sites, all the others having significantly more problems for either construction, access or environmental issues. The Cheltenham site is one of the few that allows virtually direct access to the rail tunnel 35 metres below.
At the completion of the work the site will be rehabilitated, with only a kiosk giving access to the emergency stairs and an area of hard standing adjacent to it. Vehicular access to a standard specified by the NSW Fire Brigades will be required, but it is not yet clear whether this will be from Kirkham Street or Castle Howard Road. There will be regular vehicle movements onto and off the site during construction, but thereafter there will only be vehicles coming to the site for routine maintenance purposes and in the event of an emergency in the rail tunnel.
It was made clear to the Transport NSW representatives that the community would not be happy with the destruction of bushland for the heavy access, and they agreed to pursue more avenues to minimise this impact (notably to investigate whether the access road can be run either wholly or partly within the M2 reservation, although there are topographical difficulties with that). There is also potential for traffic problems with trucks leaving the site, as it is proposed that they should turn into Kirkham Street and proceed to Beecroft Road. Councillor Browne raised the longstanding need for traffic lights at Kirkham St/Beecroft Road intersection.  The Transport NSW representatives agreed to give consideration to the installation of traffic lights at the intersection to assist to relieve traffic congestion at that point.  Councillor Browne also raised the issue of the loss of the netball courts during the construction period and said Council is likely to request replacement courts elsewhere in the shire. 
As indicated above, the first stage of the EIS is now on exhibition. Public information sessions are to be held as follows:
Thursday 26 April 2012: Epping Club, 45-47 Rawson Street, Epping. 4pm – 8pm
Saturday 28 April: Rouse Hill Town Centre, 10-14 Market Lane, Rouse Hill. 10am – 2pm.
Thursday 3 May: North West Rail Link Community Information Centre, 299 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill. 4pm – 8pm.
Saturday 5 May: Cherrybrook Uniting Church, 134 New Line Road, Cherrybrook. 10am – 2pm.
Tuesday 8 May: Crowne Plaza, 1 Columbia Court, Baulkham Hills. 4pm – 7pm.
Experts in specific topics will host additional sessions at the North West Rail Link Community Information Centre, 299 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill, as follows:
Noise and vibration: Thursday 12 April, 6pm – 8pm.
Construction traffic: Thursday 19 April, 6pm – 8pm.
Construction methods: Thursday 10 May, 6pm – 8pm.
The full EIS documentation can be viewed at the Department of Planning and Infrastructure Information centre, 23-33 Bridge Street, Sydney; the North West Rail Link Community Information Centre, 299 Old Northern Road, Castle Hill; the Nature Conservation Council, Level 2, 5 Wilson Street, Newtown; Hornsby Shire Council office and Council libraries at Pennant Hills, Epping and Hornsby; Hills Shire Council office and Council libraries at Castle Hill, Vinegar Hill and Baulkham Hills; and Blacktown City Council office and Council libraries at Blacktown and Stanhope Gardens.
Further information (but not a copy of the EIS) is available at northwestrail.com.au.
The Trust will be making a submission on the EIS. It will be available on the Trust’s website when it is complete.

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