One of Melbourne’s most popular music venues is facing fears over the impact of a new rail bridge, to be built only one metre away from the building, that could potentially cause major disruptions to the running of events due to the construction that will see increasing frequency and density of trains passing past the venue.

The powers that be at Festival Hall are worried that the planned rail bridge will dramatically interrupt the access of the venue as well as the increase of noise levels in the area, as The Age reports. There are concerns practical issues that will arise from the forced closure of a nearby side-street used to usher performers and their equipment in and out of the venue.

“We’ve got some really significant logistical problems that we’re trying to work out with [the Regional Rail Link Authority] and the police,” Festival Hall Director Chris Wren, told The Age. Mr Wren also told Tone Deaf that “we’re concerned about separating performers from the audience,” along Railway Place, the side-street in which artists and crew move in and out of the venue – which is being forced into closure as part of the proposed 12 month construction period.“We’ve got some really significant logistical problems that we’re trying to work out…”- Chris Wren, Festival Hall Director

Additionally, the proposed rail tunnel that will be created by the Dudley Street extension is a cause for safety concerns. According to the Festival Hall Director, the 2.1 metre high thoroughfare will see significant post-concert foot traffic moving through it as punters make their way home.

“We don’t want it to be a shoot-up alley for druggies,” said Mr Wren, who said they’re also expecting to be advised about the noise levels in the area, which may not affect concert events held at the venue, but could certainly disrupt “quiet functions, exams, and church services” held at Festival Hall.

Council and police authorities have been alerted to the issues, with Mr Wren acknowledging, “hopefully it will work out.”

The rail bridge will run over Dudley St, West Melbourne and is part of a $5.3 billion, 90-kilometre regional rail link. The sectioned plan was approved more than two years ago by former planning minister Justin Madden. At the time, an environmental effects statement wasn’t required because it was to be built inside an existing rail reserve.“We’re concerned about separating performers from the audience… Hopefully it will work out.” – Chris Wren, Festival Hall Director

But since then, new plans have pushed the rail link closer to Festival Hall and outside of the rail reserve. Recently, current planning Minister Matthew Guy told the Regional Rail Link authority to provide a noise assessment report. He has also given the authority until the end of the year to provide a solution to the noise levels.

Back in August, the government released a draft rail noise policy, which said noise levels would have to reach 85 decibels before mitigating action was needed. However, The Age says residents living 13 metres from the train line have captured idling V Line trains reaching 95 decibels. When in operation, the rail bridge will be utilized by between 150 and 200 diesel trains daily.

Meanwhile, Victoria Police and The City of Melbourne have voiced concerns that the new bridge will produce an unsafe, undercover walkway for pedestrians and concert goers. Nearby residents have also opposed the plans since their inception including local resident Meredith Goss, who told The Age: ”These houses were built in 1880, so if you want to increase your train numbers by 200 per cent you’ve got to think on how this might affect people’s houses.”

With a history dating back to 1915, no doubt Festival Hall feels the same way. This year it has hosted high-profile concerts by the likes of British superstars Arctic Monkeys, prolific music provocateur Jack White, and tonight, former Smiths frontman Morrissey.

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