Inner East Review

Residents' campaign closes industrial rail yard in Abbotsford

JD
Updated April 20 2022 - 12:19am, first published April 15 2022 - 2:00pm
Yarra Residents Collective spokesperson Adam Promnitz with son Xavier and some of the residents who had been suffering the impacts of the unannounced industrial stabling yard at Victoria Park
Yarra Residents Collective spokesperson Adam Promnitz with son Xavier and some of the residents who had been suffering the impacts of the unannounced industrial stabling yard at Victoria Park

A group of Abbotsford residents, backed by the Yarra Residents Collective, is celebrating "a huge win" following a backdown by Metro Trains that has seen an industrial stabling yard at Victoria Park station shut down.

The residents, who had been experiencing disruption from work on the Hurstbridge and Mernda lines over eight months, in recent weeks reported an escalation of night time noise so loud it shook their houses.

In an email to the Department of Transport and Transport Minister Ben Carroll, one resident described the situation as "an unlivable nightmare, metres from our doorstep".

Another referred to a lack of proper processes and "total disregard for the health and welfare of our community and our children".

Trucks preparing to leave the site following the decision. Photo: Adam Promnitz
Trucks preparing to leave the site following the decision. Photo: Adam Promnitz

Following a flood of complaints, which was initially met with silence, Metro Trains finally agreed to a meeting last week. It was only then residents became aware that the rail operator had created a permanent yard for industrial machinery and maintenance at the site.

Yarra Residents Collective spokesperson Adam Promnitz said while Metro claimed it had an exemption from EPA noise restrictions, he believed the legislation only provided an exemption for passenger trains.

Residents gathered for a meeting on the issue. Photo: Adam Promnitz
Residents gathered for a meeting on the issue. Photo: Adam Promnitz

After continued complaints, representations to ministers and escalating media coverage, Promnitz received a phone call from Planning Minister and local member Richard Wynne on Thursday telling him the equipment would immediately be removed.

A follow-up email from the minister included a message expressing personal regret and a sincere apology on behalf of Metro Trains from its CEO Raymond O'Flaherty, who acknowledged the situation "should have been handled better".

"Planning for a longer term solution to this issue has already commenced and no further stabling of maintenance vehicles will occur at this site until this is complete," he wrote.

Promnitz on Sunday posted photos to social media of the stabling yard free from machinery and said residents were relieved and happy with the "very unexpected" result.

"The entire use of the site was just inappropriate for the area and no-one was consulted on it," he told the Inner East Review.

"It was impacting people's health."

While the message from the minister's office referred to a investigation of long-term options to minimise the impact of the stabling yard, including installing "noise walls" at the site, Promnitz believes it is unlikely to resume operation.

Yarra councillor Steve Jolly, who supported the residents' campaign, agreed, describing the outcome as a rare win which the group had worked hard for.

JD

Jenny Denton

Journalist

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