According to the latest figures provided in the RRL Noise Impact Assessment report, only four extra peak hour trains will be added across the overcrowded Sydenham, Werribee and Williamstown lines by 2024 despite the multi-billion dollar Regional Rail Link project planned to improve rail travel for western Melbourne’s booming population.
Regional Victorians will be no better off: Geelong commuters will gain just three additional peak hour trains in the decade after Regional Rail Link opens, and only an extra half a train is planned for each of Ballarat, Bacchus Marsh and Bendigo. The figures come from the Regional Rail Link Noise Impact Assessment report released last month by the Department of Transport and have surprised Footscray residents living on the rail corridor because they are at odds with the Government’s previous statements.
The surprising drop in expectations for Regional Rail Link has caused residents to question whether the government is downplaying projections in order to side step its responsibility to protect trackside communities from noise. Alternately, the government is backtracking on previous commitments to increase rail services to the west - underutilising the 5 billion dollar RRL investment.
Based on the report’s scaled-down modelling, the Department of Transport report claims that train numbers going through Footscray will barely rise and therefore any increase in noise will be negligible. It says no action is needed to protect local residents from noise disturbance.
But residents have doubts about these claims, since the government has previously projected that Regional Rail Link will pave the way for a massive increase in rail capacity, more than doubling the number of services on regional lines and adding 50% more trains on western metropolitan lines.
The original RRL funding submission to Infrastructure Australia and the subsequent Environmental Effects Statement said there would be 30 extra trains on Footscray corridor in peak hours, but this has now been revised downward to just eight additional trains in the Noise Impact Assessment report.
Railway Place residents last week submitted a petition to the Minister for Transport Terry Mulder requesting that a noise barrier be constructed along their street and the neighbourhood park, Fordham Reserve. They support calls by Fair Go For Footscray Rail for the government to set legal noise limits for people living beside railway tracks, consistent with other Australian jurisdictions.
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