THE Australian Rail Track Corporation is asking for public feedback as it proposes amendments to local government planning schemes for works in Broadford, Wandong, Tallarook and Seymour.

The corporation is responsible for the Inland Rail freight line connecting Melbourne with Brisbane via regional Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland.

Changes are required to allow the rail line to accommodate double-stacked freight trains.

ARTC has written to the Victorian Minister for Planning requesting planning scheme amendments related to the project area, including in the City of Whittlesea and Mitchell Shire, or other aspects of the project, such as amenity considerations, landscaping, mitigation measures or construction impacts.

The amendments will remove the need for separate or additional planning permits for the construction of the railway.

They would apply to the project area only – that is, the land within the rail corridor and adjacent roads – as well as land and properties that will be required for temporary occupation or permanent acquisition.

The first stage of the project will upgrade 12 sites along the north east rail line between Beveridge and Albury.

The project sites in the Mitchell Shire will be at Broadford-Wandong Road, Wandong; Hamilton Street, Broadford; Short Street, Broadford; Marchbanks Road, Broadford; Hume Highway, Tallarook; Seymour-Avenel Road, Seymour; and Hume Highway, Seymour.

Works will include moving the rail track alignment in some areas; lowering rail tracks under road bridges or replacing existing bridges with taller ones; and raising signal gantries to achieve the clearance needed for the double-stacked freight trains that will use the rail.

ARTC’s Victoria projects general manager Ed Walker said conversations with landowners had already taken place, but declined to comment on the precise locations of the properties, or whether landowners had been offered compensation.  

“As part of the planning scheme amendment process, we are currently undertaking consultation with landowners that could be affected by Inland Rail about potential land impacts and to understand their views,” he said.

“While these conversations with individual landowners are private discussions that involve sensitive matters, they have been broadly productive as we work toward solutions.”

No dates for works or property acquisition have yet been confirmed, nor will they be until the ARTC reaches the formal reference design stage, but Mr Walker said the works at each project site would be incremental.

“What we have been hearing is that maintaining access throughout construction remains key and we will ensure works on Inland Rail will occur incrementally to minimise disruption,” he said.

“Our construction approach will help maintain access for the community and emergency services at key locations.”

He encouraged members of the community to read the planning scheme amendments and provide feedback via phone, email or by filling out submission forms posted to residents, landowners and traders within the project’s vicinity.

“We are still working through a range of issues as we progress through the reference design stage, but we will ensure the community is kept up to date and have the opportunity to collaborate as progress is made.

“We have defined the project area for Inland Rail, which is set out in the planning scheme amendment that is now available at inlandrail.artc.com.au/t2a-status.”

Questions or comments on the project can also be directed to the ARTC via phone on 1800 732 761 or email on victoriaprojects@artc.com.au.