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BRIMBANK residents living close to the railway line may need earplugs following a review of noise management as part of the $5 billion Regional Rail Link.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy has directed the Regional Rail Link Authority to come up with a new noise management plan by next March to limit noise from trains that will run on section two of the project between Deer Park and Werribee.
The demand follows an advisory report that found previous management reports and plans "fail to deal reasonably and rationally with the operational noise impacts anticipated", shifting the responsibility back to landowners to pay for noise mitigation.
Mr Guy's directions specify noise should not exceed 80 decibels during the day and 55 decibels at night for existing and future houses along the 30-kilometre section.
Yet there are no such directions for section one from Moonee Ponds Creek to Deer Park, despite the corridor being more densely populated and carrying more trains.
The Sunshine to Deer Park corridor has two off-peak and 3.5 peak trains each way per hour, expected to surge to six off-peak and 17 peak trains each way per hour by 2024.
Average daytime noise levels west of Sunshine are expected to increase by up to 5 decibels:
up to 65 decibels in the day and to 60 decibels at night.
Victoria is still working without its own guidelines, but these numbers would put passenger train noise levels over the acceptable levels under NSW and Queensland guidelines.
The predictions to 2024 differ from an earlier Environment Protection Authority report which found noise from extra rail traffic could cause chronic sleep disturbance.
Residents have been calling on the state government to commit to building noise walls to soften the sound of extra trains that will run as part of the Regional Rail Link, but the requests are falling on deaf ears.
The RRLA is designing the route without barriers due to a lack of government policy, and with concerns over the fairness of selecting some areas but not others.
Noise barriers would cost from $20million to $50million.
RRLA spokesman Simon Breer said any extra noise mitigation requirements resulting from the proposed rail noise policy, due at the end of the year, could be incorporated into the project.
In response to suggestions section two would receive unfair treatment over section one, he said RRLA was required to follow the determinations given to it by Mr Guy.
"RRLA must consider all these [noise mitigation] options in proposing how to address noise impacts and whether or not these options are practicable."
Regional Rail Link community reference group's Brimbank representative David Anderson said the issue of noise needed to be addressed. "Our rail infrastructure has been let go so badly by a series of governments," he said.
"We have seen through the recent breakdowns how bad it really is."
Mr Anderson hopes new infrastructure will help reduce noise through the replacement of old tracks.
This article first appeared on www.brimbankweekly.com.au
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