The worst sort of NIMBY

Posted: September 25, 2013 in Transport
Tags: , ,

Not In My Back Yard (NIMBY) is a common view with any major piece of infrastructure. While often derided by those not negatively affected, it is not entirely without merit. The benefits of something should be weighed up against the costs that it imposes on others, and when these costs are disproportionately imposed on a small portion of the community then it should be looked into further to see if those problems can be mitigated.

However, in some cases the cry of the NIMBY becomes so entrenched that they go on to oppose something that will actually alleviate their concerns.

Take the case of the residents living adjacent to the Northern Sydney Freight Line. The ABC’s 730 NSW program reported on this last week, and rightly pointed out that some residents suffer from freight trains passing by that are as loud as aircraft. But unlike aircraft noise, which is prevented by a curfew from occurring at night time, many of these freight trains pass by at night because of restrictions that prevent them from using the Northern Line during the morning and evening peak when the line is full of passenger trains. This is a legitimate concern, and given the push to transfer freight off trucks on the road and onto rail, one that deserves to be investigated as this problem will only become more intensified in years to come.

“Residents are presently considering a class action against extant freight train pollution, noting that we are facing 24-hour a day exposure to noise in the range of 90-108db; respiratory disease from asbestosis from freight train brake pads and diesel loco emissions; and, psychological damage because of the savageness, intrusiveness and frequency of the freight train movements.”Alex Sell, Northern Rail Noise Committee (10 May 2012)

But this opposition to additional freight trains has now extended to an opposition to the expansion of the Northern Sydney Freight Line. The current plan, to separate freight trains between Strathfield and Hornsby from passenger trains, would allow freight trains to pass through this busy portion of the railway during the peak commuter hour. This would end the ironic reality that noisy freight trains have a day time curfew, while noisy aircraft have a night time curfew. Yet what should be an improvement has instead been rejected in what seems to be a knee jerk reaction.

Moorebank Intermodal

The Northern Sydney Freight Line is shown in yellow. Click to enlarge. (Source: Department of Infrastructure and Transport)

Ideally no loud freight trains would pass through residential areas. But if they must pass through, it is madness to not build a piece of infrastructure that would allow as many of them to pass by during the day time when the least number of residents are at home, rather than night time when virtually all of them are home asleep.

  1. ash says:

    This is ridiculous. So very ridiculous that I feel ashamed. Save our village??

    I hope no one budges on the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor. At most, one could consider noise abatement measures. I do notice sometimes that the wheels on freight wagons sometimes squeal so I guess that noise barriers alone would not address the issue.

    One thing I have noticed though is that it seems a bottleneck will still remain there roughly on the Rhodes to Meadowbank section. The line still remains as double track and freight trains will have to merge and again share tracks with passenger trains there. Do you happen to know why?

  2. nicholas says:

    So why don’t they sell up and move? Oh wait, they like the benefits of living close to a major rail corridor with good public transport access (contributing to the inflating house prices of the area), but don’t want any of the downsides…

  3. Ray says:

    I live in the area and have never come across such a bunch of whingers (NIMBYS) in all of my life. The rail corridor has been in existence since 1886, so get used to it. If the blow-ins don’t like it, then move out.

  4. Ray says:

    In response to ash, I believe that quadruplication of the remaining section of double track between Rhodes and West Ryde, which includes the John Whitton Bridge across the Parramatta River, is part of a later stage of the Northern Sydney Freight Corridor program. It would then provide complete quadruplication between Strathfield and Epping, allowing not only increased freight train movements during peak hours, but also greater flexibility for mixing express and all stations passenger services. Logic suggests that it should be the next stage following on from completion of the Epping to Thornleigh Third Track, but I’m not aware of any commitment so far.

    As this is a joint Federal and State infrastructure project, I’m not sure how the incoming Federal Coalition government will view it, as they have expressed the desire to focus infrastructure spending to roads.

  5. mich says:

    A lot of locomotives are ridiculously poorly maintained.

  6. MrV says:

    “The cry of the Nimby”.
    Did Sir David Attenborough do a doco on this last time he was in Australia?

    In any case I thought we had moved onto BANANAs? – Build Absolutely Nothing Anywhere Near Anyone.

  7. QPP says:

    Thank you for this (and your excellent blog)

    I have some knowledge of the project and the level of extreme NIMBYism around it has shocked me…..staff and workforce are subjected to routine abuse and harassment, the main “antis” facebook page is heavily censored (try leaving a comment on there that isn’t totally aligned with them and it’ll last 5 minutes) and features a lot of slanderous statements and outright lies.

    I’ve seen community opposition in the past but this is something else. From the tone of the posts on their FB page you would be forgiven for believing this was a new line being driven through virgin countryside, not an extra track being put in an existing corridor (without that corridor being widened).

    The hypocrisy reaches a peak when the NIMBYs rage against the project on environmental grounds, and then in almost the same breath suggest any freight line should follow some imagined greenfield alignment way to the west of Sydney. How on earth would that possibly be less environmentally damaging?

    The elephant sized question in the room for these people is “Why did you move near to the main north rail line in the first place?”. After all, it’s been there since 1886 which is a lot longer than any of the residents have been there

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