Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Rail Freight Noise

The Trust has made the following submission regarding rail freight noise. 
Draft Rail Infrastructure Noise Guideline

The Beecroft Cheltenham Civic Trust has been active for fifty years, and currently has a membership in excess of 600, mainly residents of Beecroft and Cheltenham.  The Trust has been discussing local rail noise problems for a very long time, and has had numerous meetings with senior Federal and State ministers to discuss the issue. 

We are usually fobbed off with the explanation that the old noisy and polluting locomotives currently pulling freight through our city are not covered by existing environmental regulations.

That same position used to be taken about aircraft noise near airports, and about trucks and other road vehicles on city streets.  However regulations have been progressively imposed banning such aircraft and vehicles where they cause excessive distress to the civil population.

The Trust has drawn up a long list of issues relating to the proposed Northern Rail Freight Corridor, of which rail noise is a dominant, but not the only, component.  One factor that would remove most of these concerns is the proposal to put the freight trains in a tunnel under the existing passenger tracks passing through our suburbs.  We have been told that this is not possible with diesel locomotives due to exhaust and fire concerns.

The solution to all these problems seems remarkably obvious, and akin to the relative success achieved over the last few decades with airport and vehicle noise. 

Regulation is needed to ban these noisy and polluting diesel locomotives from use in populated areas.

If that were done, the rail companies would be forced to use modern non-polluting silent and energy-efficient electric locomotives for the steep grades through our suburb.  They could switch to diesel for the long haul level country rail links to the north.  A tunnel could then be used for the freight trains, and almost all of our residents' concerns would be assuaged.

It must also be noted that Beecroft and Cheltenham are a listed Heritage area, which should be taken into account before implementing a plan that will demolish a children’s play area and remove hundreds of trees as well as inflicting excessive rail freight noise over a wide area.

The Office of Environment and Heritage should impose appropriate noise limits on all locomotives operating in built up areas, rather than committing to a plan which threatens serious long term disruption damage and pollution to Sydney’s environment.

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