Author: wpopp

Noise

Version 1, 23 May 2016

dreamstime_m_47668457_thumbIt is important to note that any form of grade separation is likely to reduce some of the existing rail noise as the need for boom gate bells, some train braking and some mandatory train horns are eliminated or reduced by the grade separation.

Since all options would provide the same savings from these kinds of rail noises, most of the discussion below is in relation to other rail noise across the various options (eg. the vibrations of the carriages, the tracks, the freight trains’ engines, etc.).

We’ll discuss the following below:

  1. Current Government Noise Policy compliance
  2. Overview of Elevated Bridge Noise and Below Ground Bridge Noise
  3. The LXRA Preliminary Noise report for the Dandenong line
  4. Our Response To Noise Impacts

1. Does Government Policy Protect Us?… Maybe

The Good News

Engineering_VicGov_Rail_Noise_Policy_ThumbA grade separation will mean changes to the existing rail infrastructure and would require compliance with the Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy (State of Victoria 2013). (This is a separate issue to Construction Noise, which operates under the usual EPA rules).

The Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy (State of Victoria 2013) is available here.

The policy comes into effect if noise levels following the project’s completion is predicted to exceed:
– 65dB(A) during the day (6am-10pm), or
– 60dB(A) at night (10pm-6am), or
– A maximum level of 85dB(A) (at any time).

I wonder why the policy calls “Passenger Rail”, what about the freight trains???

For reference: 60dB is the noise of a conversation, 70dB is approximately the noise of a shower or dishwasher and 85dB is approximately the noise of a passing diesel truck. Hopefully, no one has that noise level in their homes from rail now!

The Bad News

Sadly, this policy only requires that the authorities consider options to avoid, minimize and mitigate. They don’t have to actually do anything!. To quote from page 6 of the policy (underlines are ours):

If an assessment shows that the investigation thresholds will be exceeded, noise impacts should be considered a primary matter. This means that transport bodies and planning authorities should consider options for avoiding, minimising and mitigating rail noise by applying the policy principles set out in Attachment 3 as a set. Transport bodies and planning authorities may find that there are no appropriate options in some cases.

Transport bodies and planning authorities should seek the views of the Minister for Public Transport and the Minister for Planning.

In accordance with section 21 of the Transport Integration Act 2010, transport bodies and planning authorities should consider publishing a report demonstrating how the principles have been applied. (Page 6, Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy, State of Victoria 2013). 

So, when the LXRA says that they will comply fully with the noise criteria, you can be sure they are meeting it – you just can’t be sure whether all additional noise will be fully mitigated or whether they will “consider” and conclude that there are no appropriate options for that case.  The policy gives them that “wriggle room” while still allowing “full compliance”.

2A. Elevated Rail Bridge Noise

Anyone who has ever stood near an existing rail bridge in use (near the Melbourne Aquarium for instance) can attest that it is certainly no quieter than the current at-grade rail we already experience.

But currently, with the at-grade tracks, the houses immediately on each side of the tracks are the most impacted by noise, as the noise is partially filtered to the houses further back by other houses and vegetation.  This is slightly less obvious where roads occur.  The State government policy noted above mentions this on Page 15 of “Considerations for applying policy principles”: “Shielding provided by other buildings”.

Say NO To Sky Rail (Skyrail) - Frankston Line - Engineering - Noise Effects
Refer also: LXRA CD9 Preliminary Noise Report: Figure 3 – Environmental Noise Propagation

Assuming that the elevated rail bridge produces the same rail noises (as the carriages move over the rails, vibrations etc,), and without additional noise mitigations, the noise from an elevated rail bridge would be noticeably increased for those houses not currently experiencing the full impact.

Say NO To Sky Rail (Skyrail) - Frankston Line - Engineering - Noise Effects

Based on our conversations with LXRA, each one of the grade separations will be around 1 km long (along with the rail line) in total, so a large area would be affected.

In other words,  the neighborhoods who currently walk to the station would now start to hear the trains in a way they have not heard them before.

Engineering_LXRA_Rail_Noise_Doc_ThumbThe LXRA document “Understanding rail noise and vibration” (available here) claims the proposed elevated structure would reduce noise and vibrations through:

  • Walls and screens to mitigate noise transfer
  • New high-quality, continuous smooth tracks
  • Purpose-built resilient fastenings to attach the new tracks directly to the structure
  • Rubber insulators under the track to dampen vibrations.

We did not find any claim that all noise impacts would be mitigated.

  • Walls and screens do help reduce noise but would add cost and visual impact. As a guide, the Caulfield-Dandenong (CD9) report indicates 600-2000mm high sound screens, the expectation being that these are attached to the side of the elevated rail – so screens up to 11m above the ground. (Great for those sea-view balconies!).
  • Continuous tracks could reduce the “clack clack” noises, but could also be used in a below ground option.
  • The use of fastenings and rubber insulators are not new to the rail space and could equally be applied to the below ground option.

As engineers, our concern is how well these mitigations will be working in 5, 10, or 50 years of constant use.

2B. Below Grade Rail Noise (In Ground Rail Design)

It is perhaps stating the obvious to point out that an in-ground rail line (the top of the train below surrounding ground level) would significantly and noticeably reduce rail noise compared to current “at-grade” noise levels.

Say NO To Sky Rail (Skyrail) - Frankston Line - Engineering - Noise Effects

Other than for those very close by, the noise would be largely contained as it was generated within two side walls.

3. But I heard on the news that an LXRA report for the Dandenong Line says there will be no extra noise if going up?

Engineering_LXRA_Rail_Noise_Doc_ThumbThis is referring to the “Preliminary Noise Report – Overview of Noise Impacts, Caulfield to Dandenong (Report: P03-000-CTD-XEV-0101)“.  The LXRA has published the Executive Summary (available here) and at first glance, it seems to be great news – zero change in noise against the design feature “Elevated structure”.  (See table below from the LXRA web page)

It’s a big claim that seems to say a lot and sounds great when reported in the media, but does it really mean anything significant at all?

We get lots of questions about this. Most people who have read this believe it means that there will be no extra noise from running trains on an elevated structure… What do you think it means?

Well unless you know how to interpret the full detailed report, it is misleading, but not actually a lie… The concrete structure itself, won’t make any extra noise!

“A summary of the potential noise impacts due to design features and the predicted change in noise is presented below:

Design feature Predicted change in noise
New continuously welded rail track 5dB reduction
Direct fix using resilient pads 6dB reduction
New stations 0-5dB reduction
Removal of level crossings 6-8dB reduction
Reduction in horn soundings 3-6dB reduction
Noise wall 5-15dB reduction
Vibration isolation 0-10dB reduction
Change in gradient 4dB reduction to 1dB increase
Elevated structure 0dB increase

The above factors are assumed to act individually. When considered in combination the net increase or decrease will not be equal to the sum of each individual component.

Compared to existing conditions where relevant noise criteria are not applied, the proposed design will achieve full compliance with relevant noise criteria. The proposed design will result in an overall reduction in noise throughout the corridor and surrounding area through the use of considered design measures. “
(LXRA Report: P03-000-CTD-XEV-0101, Page 18, “Table 15 – Summary of Noise Impacts”)

4. Our Response

Since you already know about the limits of the Government Noise Policy (Section 1 above), you’ll realize that “full compliance with relevant noise criteria” is not as comforting as it seems.

As was pointed out at the beginning of this article, ANY grade separation will reduce noise from the level crossing bells and horns.

Of course, the most asked questions we have had, have been about the “Elevated Structure, 0dB increase”. Most people have interpreted this to mean that there is no net increase in noise from putting the train tracks 9 metres in the air.

Look at the detailed report, not just the Executive Summary (you can find it here) and it makes more sense: This is from Page 17:

“Elevated Structures: The existing rail corridor is at-grade with no elevated sections. The proposed design will introduce elevated concrete structures which have the potential to generate structure-borne noise (noise due to the entire structure vibrating). Structure-borne noise is typically more pronounced in steel elevated structures than with concrete structures.”

So the noise assessed is just the noise from the vibration of the structure, not the change in elevation of the rails. Or to put it another way, how loudly the elevated structure hums. (Or maybe it doesn’t know the lyrics…) So not surprisingly, the estimated noise from this is not significant against the current background noise in that area.

We could not find any assessment of the noise impact of raising the rail 9 m in the air. Although, to be fair to the report author, this is something they may not have been asked to evaluate. We wonder, “Why not?”

On page 16 of the report, Noise Walls are discussed:

“The existing rail corridor contains no noise walls or noise reduction measures to reduce rail noise impacting on the surrounding community. The proposed design includes the provision for noise walls and visual screening at a number of locations. The proposed screens will vary in height between 600mm-2000mm. Noise barriers are most effective where they block line of sight between the receiver and the wheel/track interface. ”  

Common sense suggests that noise walls would only be used if the noise of a “Sky Rail” would be greater than the current at grade situation.

We look forward to more detailed noise reporting, in particular the “combination” evaluation of the overall noise impact of raising the rail, and a comparison of this with the current at-grade noise, especially for those not immediately adjacent to the rail line… and without noise walls.

Design Considerations

Updated 27/05/2016 – Water and Noise

(Updated 2/6/16 Spelling only)

Our comments on the issues and constraints affecting the 8 sites still in planning:

1. Water

Ground Water

So far, our reviews of publicly available information have indicated that the approximate ground water levels are lower than the depth of excavation.  Where the ground water levels are lower than the excavation level, neither dewatering or exclusion walls are required. However, seasonal fluctuations are possible, so we have discussed temporary and permanent exclusion below.

Temporary exclusion or “dewatering” is often used during construction, to lower the water table in the immediate area with subsoil drainage or wellpoints and pumps.  Once these measures are stopped, the ground water levels return to their original level.  Granular soils like the coastal sand in this area lend themselves to dewatering as water moves easily through the gaps between each piece of sand (pore spaces).

Permanent exclusion requires a low permeability or impermeable barrier to stop the flow of water within the ground, such as slurry walls, sheet piling, and pile walls.  It is likely that the sandy conditions would require the walls of the cutting to be made from such walls, thereby providing exclusion walls by default (see sand section, and CFA pile pictures below).

 

Pile walls:

CFA Continuous flight auger
Step by step section of CFA auger in wet and sandy soil – 1. Drilling Down 2 and 3. Center of auger fills hole with concrete as auger comes up 4. Reinforcing cage (if used) is pushed into hole before concrete sets up.

If the diagram to the left is not clear, there are some great youtube clips showing how CFA piles are contructed:

Piling contractors

These are some of the piles that were used on the McKinnon/Ormond grade separation.  A pile wall was also used on the Springvale grade separation, with the same “water table” issues.  The specific pile and foundation design needed will be a matter for the detailed design team – these notes are intended as general explanation.  We note that CFA piles are particularly suited to wet sand, with minimal noise and vibration.  The installation of piles occurs before any excavation takes place – this allows the work to proceed with minimal ground impact until piling is completed.

Once completed, the piles form a wall which can be safely excavated to the desired depth, although the pile length will go past the excavation depth for design reasons.  A base slab (if required) will then be poured to support the rail, and tie-into the walls. The wall face can then be finished as appropriate with pre-cast panels, shotcrete or cast in place concrete.

Drill rigs at Ormond
Drill rigs working at Ormond grade separation, reinforcing cages in the foreground
springvale grade separation under construction piled walls
Springvale Grade Separation under construction – showing pile walls exposed after excavation and prior to wall finishing.
cfawall
Pile wall after excavation, with a soil anchor at bottom
springvale grade separation under construction
Springvale Grade Separation under construction – following completion of walls and base slab

 

 

 

There are some great youtube clips about this kind of grade separation being constructed, in “high water level” areas:

And so you can imagine what the non-elevated option might look like here are some other “rail under road” options from the LXRA, in the days before “elevated rail” became the main option being marketed.

Flood Water

The track area would be a catchment area requiring drainage for heavy rainstorms. Drainage would be provided by a sump at the low point and possibly intermediate cut-off drains and sump, with sump pumps, pumping to the public drainage system after oil removal. (This is a typical arrangement in high rise basements for instance).

There could also be an opportunity for filtration, storage and re-use of this water for landscaping.

2. Sand and 3. Disruptions

More information coming – Please look again later.

4. Utilities

Say NO To Sky Rail (Skyrail) - Frankston Line - Engineering
Mc Kinnon Station – Old Service Ducts

Relocation of utilities is a consideration on every large construction project and is business as usual – not insurmountable.  We are currently unaware of any large utility easements of concern.

Given the long lead times before construction begins, we would expect that LXRA and the Utility companies would be communicating any concerns.

5. Noise 

We note that any form of grade separation is likely to reduce some existing rail noise as the need for boom gate bells, some train braking and some mandatory train horns are eliminated or reduced by the grade separation. Since all options would provide the same savings of this kind of rail noise, most of the discussion below is in relation to other rail noise (vibrations of the carriages, tracks, freight engines etc.) across the various options.

Does Government Policy Protect Us?

Maybe.  The good news is that a grade separation will mean changes to the existing rail infrastructure and would require compliance with the Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy (State of Victoria 2013).

The Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy (State of Victoria 2013) is available here.

The policy comes into effect if noise levels following the project’s completion is predicted to exceed:
– 65dB(A) during the day (6am-10pm), OR
– 60dB(A) at night (10pm-6am): OR,
– A maximum level of 85dB(A) (at any time).

For reference: 60dB is the noise of a conversation, 70dB is the noise of a shower or dishwasher. 85dB is the noise of a passing diesel truck – hopefully no one has that noise level in their homes from rail now!

Sadly, the bad news is that this policy only requires that the authorities to consider options to avoid, minimize and mitigate, not actually do so. To quote from page 6 (underlines are ours):

If an assessment shows that the investigation thresholds will be exceeded, noise impacts should be considered a primary matter. This means that transport bodies and planning authorities should consider options for avoiding, minimising and mitigating rail noise by applying the policy principles set out in Attachment 3 as a set. Transport bodies and planning authorities may find that there are no appropriate options in some cases.

Transport bodies and planning authorities should seek the views of the Minister for Public Transport and the Minister for Planning.

In accordance with section 21 of the Transport Integration Act 2010, transport bodies and planning authorities should consider publishing a report demonstrating how the principles have been applied. (Page 6, Passenger Rail Infrastructure Noise Policy, State of Victoria 2013). 

Elevated Rail Bridge Noise

Anyone who has every stood near an existing rail bridge in use (near the Melbourne Aquarium for instance) can attest that it is certainly no quieter than the current at-grade rail we already experience.

But currently with the at-grade tracks, the houses immediately on each side of the tracks are the most impacted by noise, as the noise is partially filtered to the houses further back by other houses and vegetation.  This is slightly less obvious where roads occur.  The State government policy noted above mentions this on Page 15 of “Considerations for applying policy principles”: “Shielding provided by other buildings”.

Assuming that the elevated rail bridge produces the same rail noises (as the carriages move over the ends of rails, vibrations etc,), the noise from an elevated rail bridge would be noticeably increased for those houses not currently experiencing the full impact. Based on our conversations with LXRA, each one of the grade separations will be around 1km long in total, so a large area would be affected.

In other words,  the neighbourhoods who currently walk to the station would now start to hear the trains in a way they have not heard them before.

The LXRA document “Understanding rail noise and vibration” claims the proposed elevated structure would reduce noise and vibrations through:

  • walls and screens to mitigate noise transfer
  • new high-quality, continuous smooth tracks
  • purpose-built resilient fastenings to attach the new tracks directly to the structure
  • rubber insulators under the track to dampen vibrations.

We did not find any claim that all noise impacts would be mitigated. Walls and screens do help reduce noise, but would add cost and visual impact – the height of the walls/screens is not noted but these would surely be a new goal for taggers.  Continuous tracks could reduce the “clack clack” noises, but could also be used in a below ground option.  The use of fastenings and rubber insulators are not new to the rail space, and could equally be applied to the below ground option.

As engineers, our concern is how well these mitigations will be working in 5, 10, or 50 years of constant use.

Below Grade Rail Noise (In Ground Rail Design)

It is perhaps stating the obvious to point out that an in-ground rail line (the top of the train below surrounding ground level) would significantly and noticeably reduce rail noise compared to current “at-grade” noise levels.

Other than for those very close by, noise would be largely contained as it was generated within two side walls.

But I heard on the news that a LXRA report for the Dandenong Line which says there will be no extra noise from an elevated rail?

Yes, we get lots of questions about this.  For more discussion on the LXRA’s issued noise reports, please read the noise blog at the “Noise” box down a bit on the engineering main page (click here).  It contains the content above plus new content related to this LXRA report.  We have done this so we can update at one location only.

More Information Coming:

We are continuing our work and will publish more information soon – Please look again later.

 

Health Impacts of Sky Rail – Open Letter

We are a group of health care professionals who live and work Bayside. We are nurses, occupational therapists, mental health experts, doctors, paramedics and midwives who strongly believe it is part of our role as health care professionals to advocate for the health of the entire bayside community.

We are currently gathering information about the health impacts of the LXRA proposal for elevated rail. Preliminary findings indicate there is strong evidence that elevated rail will have a negative impact on health.  This is due to increased noise, over-shadowing and reduced open green space. Furthermore, harmful brake waste and exhaust will be carried over large distances when trains are elevated. These negative health impacts will affect your family, your children and your neighbours, as well as local schools, aged care facilities and businesses.

Right now the health team are drafting an open letter to all stakeholders including the LXRA, local and federal government representatives and council authorities to draw attention to the potential negative health impact of the proposed Sky Rail. We will demand a response to each point of concern and we also demand an independent health impact assessment of any plan before it goes to tender.

How can you help? If you are health care professional and are interested in joining our team we would welcome your input. Please respond via the link below to let us know what you do within the health field and how you would like to help.

Alternatively, if you would like to co-sign our open letter as a health care professional, or know a health care professional who might, we would appreciate your support.

All signatures will strengthen our case and protect the health and well-being of our bayside community.

Kingston City Councillors

Kingston Councillors

South Ward Councillors

Aspendale, Aspendale Gardens, Waterways, Edithvale, Chelsea Heights, Chelsea, Bonbeach, Carrum, Patterson Lakes

Cr Tamsin Bearsley

e tamsin.bearsley@kingston.vic.gov.au   p (03) 9581 4706 m 0430 170 210

w tamsinbearsley.org

f facebook.com/crtamsinbearsley

t twitter.com/tamsinbearsley

 

Cr John Ronke

e john.ronke@kingston.vic.gov.au        (03) 9587 0829 m 0410 558 862

 

Cr David Eden

e david.eden@kingston.vic.gov.au

m 0422 557 917

w davideden.org

f facebook.com/davideden2012

t twitter.com/DEden2012

 

North Ward Councillors

Moorabbin, Highett, Oakleigh South, Heatherton, Clarinda, Clayton South, Dingley Village

Cr Tamara Barth

e tamara.barth@kingston.vic.gov.au      m 0417 870 350

 

Cr Steve Staikos 

e steve.staikos@kingston.vic.gov.au     p (03) 9544 2745 m 0447 896 643

Cr Paul Peulich

e paul.peulich@kingston.vic.gov.au

m 0427 354 795

 

Central Ward Councillors

Cheltenham, Mentone, Parkdale, Moorabbin Airport, Mordialloc, Braeside

Cr Ron Brownlees OAM e ron.brownlees@kingston.vic.gov.au    m 0418 172 725

 

Cr Rosemary West OAM e rosemary.west@kingston.vic.gov.au    p (03) 9776 2819 m 0418 554 799

 

Cr Geoff Gledhill

e geoff.gledhill@kingston.vic.gov.au    m 0427 102 926

 

Leaflet Drive this week

    • Now that we have a bit of breathing space we are getting out and about and talking to residents… This involves dropping leaflets off at homes in a designated area, and then returning a day or two later to talk to the residents. We find this a much more effective way of getting our message across, and over 80% (yes, 8 out of 10) people are signing our petition and joining our cause. (15% are indifferent and about 5% pro Sky Rail).
    • We need to get as many people as possible to sign the petition and join our group so we can send a strong message to the government that we DO NOT WANT SKY RAIL! (remove the level crossings but putting them in a cutting under the road)
    • But this takes effort.. and time.. so we need more help… if you want to stop Sky Rail and put the level crossings below the roads into a cutting (not a tunnel and not a trench!) we need your help.
    • Can you spare a couple of hours over Easter? Or over the next week or two?  We want to reach out to people before the LXRA start house visits in April… (yes, next week!)
    • If you can help, please contact us via our email or leave a note below. We will then contact you and give you everything you need to get your neighbours on board.
      1. Leaflets,
      2. Map of your area
      3. Clipboard with Petition
      4. Other information about our group and the Sky Rail proposal
      5. Even chocolate Easter eggs to keep you going!

So please check out our website, and Facebook page, grab some leaflets and let everybody know why Sky Rail is a bad idea!

Kingston Council Meeting voting on Sky Rail – Tue 29th March

Note that Cr Paul Peulich has put forward the following motion to be considered by Kingston Countil next Tuesday 29th March, 2016.

If you want to sway your councillor, contact them to tell them you support this motion and are against Sky Rail. A list of Kingston City Councillors can be found elsewhere on our website (here).

 

Kingston_Council_Adgenda_20160329

Ordinary Meeting of Council – 29 March 2016

Agenda Item No: 12.1

KINGSTON COUNCIL OPPOSITION TO SKYRAIL

 

That Kingston Council strongly opposes the Skyrail design for the Frankston Line (within the municipal boundaries of Kingston City Council) and calls on the Daniel Andrews Labor Government to abandon any plans for elevated rail on the Frankston Line as well as the Centre Road and Clayton Road Level Crossings on the Dandenong Line.

Kingston Council supports genuine community consultation, however the council expresses strong concern in the recent comments made by Daniel Andrews stating that the decision on the Skyrail design cannot be overturned in spite of ongoing community consultation. (https://twitter.com/3AW693/status/704478788734705664)

In light of these comments, Kingston Council calls on the Daniel Andrews Labor Government to rule out Skyrail as an option on the Frankston Line thereby removing it as an option to be commented on during community consultation.

In addition to the above, council write to all local MPs, both state and federal, as well as the Premier, relevant state ministers and the Victorian Opposition, expressing strong opposition to the Skyrail design for the Frankston Line as well as for the Centre Road and Clayton Road Level Crossings on the Dandenong Line.

Lastly, as part of Kingston Councils opposition to Skyrail, council write to any neighbouring municipalities affected by Skyrail requesting their participation in a “Coalition of Councils Against Skyrail,” a lobby group to be formed by Kingston Council and other interested neighbouring councils opposed to the Skyrail design, to be used as a vehicle to advocate against Skyrail to key stakeholders including the state government, the Victorian Opposition, local MPs, both state and federal and the Level Crossing Removal Authority.