AusRAIL, Market Sectors

Vic government sets rail noise rules

<span class="" id="parent-fieldname-description"> Victoria’s state government has looked to address noise pollution from passenger rail through a new policy aimed at tackling the oft-maligned by-product of urban rail expansion. </span> <p>The new policy will be consulted when statutory approvals are required for a planned change to existing passenger rail infrastructure, changes relating to new rail projects, and land use changes around existing infrastructure.</p><p>Developers of new rail infrastructure will have to make sure the noise affecting nearby residential buildings by trains on the network does not exceed 80 decibels (dB), the equivalent of the amount of noise made by a typical garbage disposal unit, or city traffic.</p><p>Developers of new residential buildings near existing rail infrastructure will have to make sure the sound affecting those new buildings doesn’t exceed 85dB.</p><p>If noise is expected to exceed the thresholds defined by the new policy, transport and planning authorities will be required to undertake noise reduction measures, including:<br />specifying the types of land use in proximity to the railway<br />requiring set back from a rail reserve<br />rail infrastructure design features such as vertical and horizontal alignment of the track and track design<br />building and architectural treatments such as building orientation, design of floor plans, type of building materials used and double glazing<br />engineering treatments such as construction of barriers or cuttings</p><p>State minister for transport Terry Mulder said the government was investing heavily in the Victoria’s rail network in response to growing passenger demand, but said the government was also wary to preserve the comfort of local residents.</p><p>“Construction of new passenger rail infrastructure is essential to meet the future transport needs of our growing population,” he said.</p><p>“However, these developments need to be managed carefully and with consideration for the amenity of local residents.”</p><p>In the 2012-13 financial year, Victoria’s Coalition Government plans to spend $372 million on the state’s passenger and freight rail networks, according to Mulder.</p><p>But the continued investment has driven the need to ensure noise issues relating to new infrastructure have been addressed, Mulder said.</p><p>Section 251B of the <em>Transport (Compliance and Miscellaneous) Act 1983 </em>exempts passenger rail operations from liability and prosecution for nuisance in relation to noise under the <em>Environment Protection Act 1970 </em>and the <em>Local Government Act 1989</em>.</p><p>But the new policy sets out specific parameters for noise levels to rail operators and developers, with the aim of finding “a fair and equitable solution that balances the benefits of improved public transport through passenger rail with the impacts on those living nearby.”</p><p>“The Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy allows careful consideration of amenity issues when there is a major change to the rail infrastructure in close proximity to homes or where new homes are planned close to railways,” Mulder said.</p><p>“While Victoria has a range of laws that cover how noise is managed in the community, until now, there has been limited guidance on how to apply the existing broad legislative requirements to noise from passenger rail investments.”</p>