Owners of the Elements of Byron resort, which has approval to run a train into the town along the disused railway line, have responded to criticisms of the plan.
A re-announcement of the plan has provoked a spike in opposition in recent weeks from Sunrise residents and, as reported in Echonetdaily yesterday, tourism businesses along Shirley Street.
Objectors cited concerns about noise, pollution from diesel particulate, frequency of services and piercing whistles at railway crossings.
But an Elements spokesperson told Echonetdaily the concerns were based on ‘misinformation’.
She added that there had been widespread consultation, and supplied Echonetdaily with a considerable log of data reflecting that, despite residents’ claims to the contrary.
‘Some residents have admitted to us that they had heard about the train, they just didn’t believe it would happen. They were shocked to get the letter with dates of when it will be up and running,’ she said.
But she admitted that Elements might have inadvertently contributed to the concern.
‘We did proudly exclaim that it was built just after the Second World War,’ she said.
But in fact the diesel rail motor, which is due to start its runs into town this summer, has been completely rebuilt with a much more modern engine.
‘The diesel engine is generally quieter than a bus. The rail noise at our slow speeds will be comparable to rubber on bitumen under a truck at the same speed,’ Elements said in a media release.
‘The rail in this section is 110m-length welded (so minimal joints) which helps to reduce track noise at the rail joints. In addition to this, running one engine at low throttle on a straight track with zero grade and easy braking all collectively minimize the noise output from engine and rail.
‘When built as 600 class units in 1949 they were fitted with screaming GM diesels. But these were replaced with much quieter Cummins engines when converted to 660 class in the mid 70s. The rail version of the Cummins 14 litre NT855 engine is much quieter than the automotive version,’ the release continued.
No black smoke
Responding to concerns about diesel particulate, Elements said the rail cars will be burning ‘the same standard diesel available from any petrol station; the same diesel that is burned in every truck, 4WD and school bus.’
‘Cummins diesel engines are renowned as a clean burning engine. They will only start to blow smoke if the owner hasn’t invested in regular maintenance like servicing fuel injectors, replacing worn piston rings and burnt valves, etc. In addition to being a clean burning engine design, all Cummins engines are fitted with a turbo manifold pressure fuel limiter, which limits the amount of fuel being fed into the engine during acceleration until the turbo pressure increases,’ the resort owners said.
‘During the 30-year operational life of these Cummins engines (mid 70s to mid 00s) the engines were rebuilt numerous times. During this 30-year period Cummins upgraded quite a lot of engine parts (particularly in the combustion area) to improve economy and emissions to keep up with their competition and compliance with emissions targets in USA and Europe.
‘Original engine parts (pistons, injectors, valves, etc) would have been discontinued and replaced with upgraded parts automatically, so these same engines would be more economical and emit less emissions than when they were first built 40 years earlier,’ they said.
The fuel limiting device was fitted to the 660 class engines when the Cummins engines were first fitted in the mid 1970s, thus the 620 and 660 class railcars never emitted black smoke.
Regarding the frequency of the trains, the resort owners said they are ‘yet to determine a timetable for services, however this will generally based around patronage and demand once we start operating, and we encourage residents in Byron and Sunrise to contact us to suggest operating times that would be suitable for them.’
They added that during peak holiday times and when there is a lot of traffic on Ewingsdale Road, they are likely to run the service more frequently.
The company has also restated its determination to seek a long-term solar solution for powering the train, as mentioned in yesterday’s Echonetdaily.