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MORE than 100 Brimbank residents have signed a petition calling on the state government to suspend works on the Sunshine to Deer Park section of the Regional Rail Link until an environmental assessment is completed.
The move follows a June 25 meeting in Sunshine West where more than 80 people called for improvements to the $5 billion rail project.
Residents say they want proper noise and pollution protection through existing suburbs; safe and easy pedestrian and bike access; electrification of the Melton, Geelong and Ballarat lines; and measures to deal with increased traffic.
Launching an action group, meeting organiser Larissa Stewart said that while residents were not opposed to Melbourne's first new major rail line in 80 years, they wanted to see work undertaken in a responsible and sustainable manner.
Emotions ran high during the meeting, with one resident becoming so distressed about the recent closure of King Edward Avenue he had to be restrained and escorted out.
Resident Kerry Javni, who lives on Ridgeway Parade, said she was on the verge of selling the house her family built more than 40 years ago.
"I don't feel residents have been adequately consulted or informed of the project. We were basically told this is what will be happening and there's not much you can do about it."
Ms Javni feared the rail link would diminish the value of her house if electrified trains were not used on the Deer Park corridor and more sound protection measures were not put in place.
"The railway runs directly behind my street so already I hear trains running along it every day.
If this increases to 20 diesel trains during peak hours, I don't think I could cope."
A Transport Department spokesman told the Weekly an environmental management plan would be developed before the end of this year.
"The plan will consider noise impacts along this section of the project and take into account a new government policy on noise, which is now in development."
The Regional Rail Link Authority held an information seminar at Victoria University in St Albans on Thursday. An RRL spokeswoman who attended last Monday night's meeting said she appreciated the opportunity to hear concerns first-hand. "The rail link authority has an active community reference group that has a dedicated community representative from each of the municipal areas," she said. "We encourage people to contact their local representative with feedback or questions they have about the project."
The RRL project will allow regional and metro trains to be separated by early 2016.
This article first appeared on www.brimbankweekly.com.au
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