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FOOTSCRAY residents living close to the railway line may need to invest in earplugs following a review of noise management as part of the $5billion Regional Rail Link project.
Planning Minister Matthew Guy recently directed the Regional Rail Link Authority to come up with a new noise management plan by March next year to limit noise from trains that will run on section two of the project between Deer Park and Werribee.
There are no directions for reducing noise for section one, from Moonee Ponds Creek to Deer Park, despite the area being more densely populated and the corridor carrying more trains than outer sections.
Noise levels from the opening of the rail link to 2024 are predicted to be highest between Footscray and West Footscray, where average daytime noise levels will be up to 78 decibels during the day and 75 decibels at night.
West of Sunshine, average daytime noise levels are expected to be up to 65 decibels and up to 60 decibels at night.
The predictions differ from an earlier Environment Protection Authority report released early last year, which found noise from extra rail traffic could cause chronic sleep disturbance.
An advisory report prepared for Mr Guy for section one 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 that noise should not exceed 80decibels during the day and 55decibels at night for existing and future houses along the 30-kilometre outer section.
Yet Footscray residents will have to live with noise levels that exceed the acceptable levels under NSW and Queensland guidelines and they 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 RRL project.
Fair Go for Footscray Rail Residents spokesman Nick Fahey said residents were wondering why the minister had shown no such interest in solving the same problem in Footscray.
"For the residents of Footscray, it looks like we'll be lucky if Mr Guy issues us with ear plugs.
"The current [state] government is no better than the last in the way they treat Footscray residents as second-class citizens. Is this because Footscray is a safe Labor seat, whereas the suburbs in RRL section two are swinging seats?"
"We'd like the same advisory committee that provided the report on stage two to do the same for stage one where they received submissions and allowed presentations."
RRLA spokesman Simon Breer said a noise impact assessment was completed for section one and it satisfied the conditions set by the former minister for planning. An advisory committee process is not required.
"Acoustic barriers are not currently in the scope of the Regional Rail Link project. However, RRLA has previously said in the noise impact assessment report for section one that it will ensure that any additional noise mitigation requirements resulting from the application of the Victorian government's proposed rail noise policy will be able to be incorporated into the project.
"The proposed policy is part of a whole-of-government approach to consider the issue of noise associated with future passenger rail projects. The policy is expected to be finalised by the end of 2012." Mr Guy's office did not respond to questions from the Weekly over residents' concerns before deadline.
This article first appeared on www.maribyrnongweekly.com.au
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