Transport noise

The EPA helps reduce noise pollution by providing guidance on managing noise from road and rail developments in NSW. Read our policies on transport noise, and learn about our roles in this area.

Road noise

The EPA has developed a NSW Road Noise Policy (PDF 4.4MB) with other key agencies and industry for

  • road project proponents
  • determining authorities
  • city and transport planners
  • acoustic specialists
  • people interested in the impacts of road traffic noise

The Road Noise Policy establishes criteria to

  • enable roads to be planned and designed to minimise noise during their construction or redevelopment
  • reduce traffic noise levels on existing and new roads
  • assess the impacts of road traffic noise on the community
  • provide information on the Roads and Maritime Service’s Noise Abatement Program, under which residents exposed to acute road noise where no further road developments are proposed may be eligible for assistance with noise mitigation measures

The Road Noise Policy is supported by NSW Road Noise Policy – key provisions (PDF 31KB) and the NSW Road Noise Policy - Application notes (PDF 22KB). They explain the main differences between the policy and the former Environmental Criteria for Road Traffic Noise and how to apply them.

Rail noise

The EPA is working with other agencies, infrastructure owners and developers, rail operators, train manufacturers, regulatory and planning authorities and the community to reduce rail noise and vibration from the NSW rail system. The main goals are to

The Rail infrastructure noise guideline

  • streamlines approval processes for rail infrastructure projects
  • ensures that potential noise and vibration impacts are assessed consistently and minimised as far as possible
  • specifies noise and vibration levels for heavy and light rail infrastructure projects

If noise levels are likely to be exceeded while the rail project is under way, the proponent must consider ‘feasible’ and ‘reasonable’ noise mitigation strategies.

Application of noise trigger levels for the redevelopment of heavy rail

The following provides clarity on how to apply the rail noise trigger levels for redeveloped railway projects, as set out in the Rail infrastructure noise guideline (PDF 556KB).

The noise trigger levels for redeveloped heavy rail lines outlined in Table 1 of the guideline must be applied as follows.

Consideration must be given to the noise trigger levels for both the increase to existing rail noise levels and increase to predicted rail noise levels as follows.

The first consideration is whether the development increases:

  • existing LAeq(period) noise levels by 2 dB or more, and/or
  • existing LAmax rail noise levels by 3 dB or more.

If either or both of these criteria is satisfied (that is, either or both the 2 dB and 3 dB increase occur), it is then necessary to consider the predicted (absolute) rail noise levels.

There are four relevant exceedances for predicted (absolute) rail noise levels that must be assessed. These are, during the day, exceedance of: 

  • 65 dB LAeq(15h) and/or
  • 85 dB LAFmax

and during the night, exceedance of:

  • 60 dB LAeq(9h) and/or
  • 85 dB LAFmax

When any of the four exceedances in predicted rail noise levels is met, together with either of the increases to existing rail noise levels, the trigger level will have been met and rail infrastructure proponents must evaluate feasible and reasonable noise mitigation measures to manage noise impacts.

Other types of transport noise

For noise enquiries about


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