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Byron Shire
December 3, 2021

Toxic trains on our tracks?

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As a resident of Sunrise estate and a property owner that sits opposite the rail line, I’m deeply concerned about the antiquated and toxic diesel engines that Elements at Byron proposes to run past our street. Is our council really espousing zero emission, yet endorsing this toxic technology?

I believe Elements of Byron is labelling itself as an ecologically sustainable and environmentally friendly development and yet the train technology they are endeavouring to run on our railways is an emitter of known carcinogens.

The XPT only ran two services a day with an occasional small freight train. I understand that the resort plans to run the train between 8am and 10pm seven days a week, with the frequency of trips dependent upon demand (so I guess more often during holiday periods). At the half hourly interval they have suggested that will be a staggering 56 trips per day (one return service every 30 minutes equals trips per hour, 14 hours per day). Do we need or want such frequent train trips?

Photos being used in the media show modern light rail electric trains. However, I believe the reality is that the resort is planning to use a heritage listed 50-year-old diesel train – old technology (1970’s diesel) not like the modern diesel engines used in cars today. Diesel particulates are highly toxic, and a 2014 EPA report from the Hunter region showed diesel particulates to be a major factor in the region’s current health concerns.

I have a child, pets, grow veggies – all will be affected if a diesel train starts running and those who suffer from respiratory illness like asthma will find that inhaling diesel particulates will aggravate their condition. Noise and light pollution will also be serious issues. The ‘suburban whistle’ used at the Kendall Street level crossing at Belongil, every 15 minutes will need to be loud enough to warn approaching cars, so even though the train is proposed to travel ‘slowly’ – which may reduce noise – the frequency of the 56 transits per day will compound noise levels. The light for the night trips up until 10 pm will also be an invasive issue for many houses that line the railway.

As far as I am aware there has been no community consultation directly related to the running of a train between the resort and town. I, as an affected resident, have not been asked for my feedback on the issue. The current DA with council does not include train usage – that lies with State Rail.

I hope that Elements of Byron and the council will take the concerns of the many affected locals seriously and reconsider the use of a toxic trains on our tracks and of the frequency of which it plans to run it.

Fiona Chapman, Sunrise Beach

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  1. Fiona, have you tried contacting the resort to discuss your concerns? From what I’ve read and seen of their proposal, there seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around at present – pure scaremongering. Many if not all of the fears you have expressed here may be allayed by making direct contact with them. I assume you have read their submission in full? I understand from an Echo article that there is a comprehensive log of all community consultation undertaken – and it’s substantial. It might be better to sit down with the resort owners over a cup of coffee to work through this stuff.

  2. Can’t wait to sit in longer traffic delays while the boom gates are down at the level crossing at Simmo’s garage !!


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