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Petition: Train Horn Noise

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
20 September 2022

The Petition of certain citizens of the State of Victoria draws to the attention of the Legislative Council that the noise from train horns is causing harm to neighbours of railways. Residents and workers near railways are subjected to frequent horn blasts hundreds of times a week and almost always as a matter of routine at any time of the day or night. The horns are supposed to be a low-cost solution to safety, but the true costs are externalised in the form of noise pollution. The World Health Organization estimates that every year in the western part of Europe, at least one million healthy life years are lost due to traffic-related noise. In Melbourne, the frequent sound of train horns relentlessly harms the health and wellbeing of communities near railways. Can there be another rail infrastructure to provide safety along railway tracks? Additional rail infrastructure such as basic fencing protection is needed in order to lessen the insistent and excessive train horns that are used 24 hours a day. The petitioners therefore request that the Legislative Council call on the Government to reduce the noise pollution caused by excessive use of train horns by providing fencing along railway tracks or alternative means for safety.

By Dr RATNAM (Northern Metropolitan) (1073 signatures).

Laid on table.

I also want to make some brief remarks on the petition I tabled yesterday to reduce the noise pollution from train horns. My office has been contacted by many residents who live and work near stations and along rail corridors who are extremely frustrated by hearing horn blasts hundreds of times a week when trains leave stations and travel through level crossings. On weekends when services run 24 hours a day train blasts are sounded through the night and in the early hours of the morning. While intermittent, the noise from horns can range from 45 to 60 decibels. Noise pollution has serious effects on health and wellbeing and causes sleep disturbance and cardiovascular problems and reduces quality of life.

The national Rail Industry Safety and Standards Board has recently released a new code of practice on train horn use which seeks to minimise the use of horns and reduce their impact on the community. While horns are sounded as a safety measure, there are alternative safety measures that can be implemented to help reduce the use of horns, such as fencing along railway tracks and improved announcements, lighting and bells. Over 2500 residents have signed this position calling on the government to reduce the noise sounded by train horns by investigating alternative rail infrastructure such as fencing along railway tracks or alternative means for safety.

In response to residents’ concerns the Department of Transport has created a train horn working group to identify opportunities to reduce the impact of train horn noise on the community. Residents have attempted to contact the department to seek information about the progress made on this working group but have had little luck. I encourage the Minister for Public Transport and his department to meet with residents groups and involve them in the work of the working group.

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Samantha Ratnam
Leader of the Victorian Greens
20 September 2022
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