A new trial to reduce rail noise in the Upper Hunter

February 09, 2015

The Australian Rail Track Corporation (ARTC) is progressing to the next phase of its Trial Rail Noise Abatement program to reduce the impact of noise from coal trains.
The NSW Minerals Council is welcoming the initiative, following its own announcement of a series of operational improvements to reduce potential dust emissions from coal trains operating in the Hunter Valley coal chain following industry-led studies  in 2014.
The ARTC’s program is being funded by the Hunter Valley coal industry, with locations confirmed and construction to begin over the next few weeks.
Speaking at Glenridding, near Singleton, ARTC Executive General Manager – Hunter Valley, Jonathan Vandervoort, said the trial was reflective of industry’s investment in leading environmental programs.
The Trial Rail Noise Abatement Program, or Trial RailNAP, is a program being carried out in an effort to better understand acute operational rail noise and to evaluate different methods of reducing it. 
“Industry has a track record for investing in and embracing solutions that deliver improved environmental outcomes and this trial program is an example of that,” Mr Vandervoort said. 
ARTC will be constructing a 284 metre long noise wall at Victoria Street, Glenridding over February and March. A property in Willow Tree will also receive architectural treatments as part of the trial program. 
“Being able to deliver the noise wall and the architectural treatment is the culmination of months of hard work and engagement, and will deliver a positive result for residents,” Mr Vandervoort said.
WATCH: animated fly through showing how the noise wall will look
The Hunter Valley coal industry is investing $1 million into the trial being delivered by ARTC.  The program has been proactively and voluntarily undertaken and was not legislated.
The aim is to find a fair and feasible way of responding to acute operational rail noise levels by developing a program that is sustainable over the long term. 
"The mining industry has been an important part of the Hunter community for around 200 years; and it's not just the vital economic contribution mining makes, but the fact that the vast majority of the Hunter mining workforce live in the communities near where mining takes place," NSW Minerals Council Chief Executive Stephen Galilee said.
"That makes community issues like rail noise, our issues. It's the reason the local industry has contributed to this noise abatement trial. As an industry we are committed to finding and implementing the best strategies to address noise issues along the coal chain," Mr Galilee said.
The methodology for the program was based on a framework developed by a NSW EPA-led interagency working group and used lessons learned from other operational noise abatement programs.
The trial is scheduled for completion in August 2015 and a review process will then take place.
The NSW Minerals Council and its members are committed to working alongside local businesses and the community to minimise any effects of mining in the region, and this promising news is another step in the right direction.

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