Train horns

12 May 2015

Mr SPEIRS ( Bright ) ( 12:26 :30): Deputy Speaker, no speech I make in this parliament would be complete without an update on the train horn saga which has made the life of hundreds of residents in my electorate a misery since early 2014.

I am pleased to report that this problem is significantly improving after a long community-led campaign. The high-pitched invasive horn, which we have been fighting against for many months, has been tamed through a new approach—a rare win for the community in the face of an out-of-touch government bureaucracy.

This was never a battle which should have pitted rail safety against community amenity; that was a false construct of the transport department. No-one ever said that the trains should not have a warning device, but hundreds of people found themselves asking why the horns on the electric trains needed to be so loud and so disturbing and so frequently blasted compared to the dull and completely adequate horn on the old diesel trains. I would estimate there has been around an 80 per cent improvement in the level of disturbance caused by the horns—

Ms Chapman: Great local member!

Mr SPEIRS: A great win, as the member for Bragg suggests. This 80 per cent improvement has come about by a change of policy in terms of horn usage by drivers, and our community is incredibly grateful for this change. The remaining problems, which are thankfully much less frequent, seem to be down to a few maverick drivers who have decided not to acquiesce to departmental policy. Thankfully, the local community has become wise to such behaviour and has taken to closely monitoring train horn activity. I note that a recent email from transport department chief executive, Michael Deegan, in response to a complaint from a resident, reads as follows:

Further to recent emails the driver to whom you referred over a particular incident has been counselled and has apologised. I have a senior driver working with the driver in cab to ensure protocols are followed.

The email was signed by Michael Deegan, Chief Executive, Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure. So, we are making progress with the train horns, but why did it take so long? It was not until the community got enraged, went out and protested, signed petitions and helped me to hijack the government's ridiculously gimmicky GOVchat forum that action was taken. While I am grateful that the department has finally done something, it beggars belief that it has taken 17 months of arrogant dismissal to get to this point.

Extracted from Hansard