Councillor Don Palmer Providing Local Leadership & Working for You

Some who read the posts on this blog site may well remember my post early last year that read “DPTI just does not get it”. Well with the rail revitalization project stumbling toward completion I have repeat it.

I have received a number of complaints today at a street meeting about how DPTI have treated their observations and concerns with contempt, some past but some current. This demonstrates that DPTI are still getting under peoples noses.

Goodness I thought the project was finished some time back you might ask. As I noted in my last post DPTI may believe this but what this has done is to spark a whole new round of angst, through me, toward them and the Government.

A case in point; they have completed the pedestrian crossing just south of the grade separation tunnel, adjacent Fairfax Street, Millswood. It has been in operation for a while now. The crossing includes an audible warning which did not exist before because the oncoming trains (from the north) are now not visually apparent until almost on the crossing.

DPTI engineers have determined, not unreasonably at first look, to provide an automatic closing gate system couple with an audible warning. The problem is the audible warnings are way too loud for the comfort of adjacent residents, who were promised they would not be worse off before the project started.

It has been claimed the level of the audible warning (which is a hoot not a ding dong) is 73 dB. 75 dB I understand  is roughly the equivalent of a car horn. As a warning it is operating every 3 1/4 minutes during peak hour (trains are passing every 7 1/2 minutes each way, check the train schedules if you doubt me) and 7 1/2 minutes outside peak hour.

Hardly a warning if it is on that frequently I would have thought. And the vast majority of the time there is no-one using the crossing.

A resident has reasonably (in my opinion) offered a solution of reversing the gate function from being open all the time and automatically closing when a train approaches to one that is automatically locked all the time unless opened by the actions of a pedestrian. Of course of the automation system would have to recognize a train is approaching the gate preventing the gate to be manually opened by the pedestrian in that situation. An audible warning system becomes less necessary if this were the case I would have thought.

Their response to that residents reasonable suggestions as to how the safety they want can be achieved, was to simply to throw regulations at them. No recognition of the residents well reasoned, thought out attempt to be part of the solution or thanks for their looking to a solution rather than just venting.

Their response is to claim it was confirmed by an acoustic engineer commissioned to check the site that the alarm noise level output complies with the International Standard ISO 7731 and the volume is not required to be adjusted.

Sorry DPTI. That is just not good enough. You are sticking your neck in the sand in my opinion and using regulations to “blind people with science” who might have a concern with what you are doing.

Here is a big tip DPTI. You might want to check the statistics of pedestrian deaths in Australia on rail crossings. If what I was told today by an unqualified source the vast majority of deaths occur at crossings configured the way you have configured this one.

If this is true, might be time to change the regulations which you can do, as the regulator.