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RAIL ENVIRONMENTAL CASE STUDIES . Neil Hammer New Metro Rail, Perth. Issue 1: Contaminated sites. Yard and depot areas Workshops Leased premises Likely soil and/or contamination from asbestos products, petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, chlorinated hydrocarbons and pesticides.

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rail environmental case studies


Neil Hammer

New Metro Rail, Perth

issue 1 contaminated sites
Issue 1: Contaminated sites
  • Yard and depot areas
  • Workshops
  • Leased premises
  • Likely soil and/or contamination from asbestos products, petroleum hydrocarbons, heavy metals, chlorinated hydrocarbons and pesticides.
issue 1 case studies
Issue 1: Case Studies

1. A large railway workshop on 40 hectares of land closed down and the land rezoned for mixed use. An environmental investigation found massive contamination.

2. A locomotive maintenance facility was constructed on land reclaimed from a former marsh area. Underground pipes from reticulated fuel systems corroded with heavy loss of diesel fuel into soil and waterways.

issue 1 response action
Issue 1: Response Action
  • The preparation of an inventory of contaminated sites from a systematic environmental investigation on a site-by-site basis.
  • This inventory can then be used to develop strategies and plans to manage and remediate those sites posing risks to the environment.
issue 2 ground borne vibrations from passing trains
Issue 2: Ground-borne vibrations from passing trains
  • The principal issues are those of residential annoyance and objection to rattling windows and crockery from train movements.
  • However vibration-sensitive occupations such as optometry, cinemas and laboratories are more seriously affected.
issue 2 case studies
Issue 2: Case Studies

1. In a housing estate adjacent to a freight railway, a residence some 45 metres from the track experienced sufficient ground borne vibration to smash touching wine glasses in a living room cabinet.

2. A passenger railway track near to a theatre complex was constructed using resilient rail fasteners to dampen train-induced vibration.

3. A new freight by-pass railway line into a coastal city was to be constructed in a corridor passing close to a technical college, school and a residential area.

issue 2 response action
Issue 2: Response Action
  • Predictive modelling of vibration impacts from passing trains on sensitive premises is not completely reliable.
  • The most useful indicator is the horizontal distance between the vibration source and the receiving premises.
issue 3 transport of dangerous goods and emergency response
Issue 3: Transport of dangerous goods and emergency response
  • Freight railways transport large quantities of dangerous goods (hazardous substances) every day over long distances.
  • Many of these substances, if spilled in sensitive areas, would result in significant environmental damage.
issue 3 case studies
Issue 3: Case Studies

1. A branch line train derailment on a hot and dry day spilled 20 tonnes of bulk ammonium nitrate and 10,000 litres of diesel fuel into a common drain.

2. A night time railway yard derailment caused diesel fuel to spill from an overturned tank car into the stormwater drainage system.

3. A derailment on the Nullabor Plain just inside the Western Australian border resulted in a significant spill of tolylene diisocyanate liquid from an overturned tank container.

issue 3 response action
Issue 3: Response Action
  • The Agency or Company transporting of dangerous goods should have in place an effective emergency response plan and resources that integrates with State emergency management schemes.
issue 4 managing preserving environmental values of rail corridors in rural areas
Issue 4: Managing & preserving environmental values of rail corridors in rural areas
  • In many rural areas the only examples of the original bushland lies in the remnant vegetation of rail and road corridors.
issue 4 case studies
Issue 4: Case Studies

1. In an effort to minimise track maintenance costs, the use of a persistent herbicide was promoted in rural areas.

2. The newly proposed Perth to Mandurah railway was primarily located in rail reserves established in 1994. These reserves are now recognised to pass through environmentally sensitive areas.

issue 4 response action
Issue 4: Response Action
  • Where there are environmentally sensitive areas in the vicinity of existing and proposed railways, thoroughly review all credible options to provide as much protection as possible to the environment.
issue 5 sustainable environmental development
Issue 5: Sustainable environmental development
  • The Perth to Mandurah passenger rail project was asked to prepare an environmental Sustainable Strategy to integrate with the economic and social evaluations to form a "triple bottom line" outcome.
issue 5 response action
Issue 5: Response action
  • The preparation of a Sustainable Strategy document for transport organisations, together with sustainability plans can result in economic and environmental benefits.
  • The strategies may involve waste management, recycling, energy efficiency, transit oriented development and also a balanced outcome from “the integration of environmental protection, social advancement and economic prosperity” (GWA 2003).