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Metro Tunnel

Managing construction noise and vibration

In delivering the Metro Tunnel project, we want to minimise the inconvenience and impacts of construction on local communities and the environment.

Measures and management

During construction, the use of heavy machinery may cause some noise and vibration above existing levels.

A number of mitigation measures were identified in the Metro Tunnel Environment Effects Statement (EES) to avoid, reduce or offset environmental impacts. These measures form the basis of the recommended Environmental Performance Requirements (EPRs) for the Metro Tunnel project and have been recommended by specialists through the EES process.

The EPRs define the outcomes that must be achieved during the design, construction and operational phases of the project. This approach is designed to ensure the project delivers a net benefit to the community, and in the process, encourages innovation and flexibility from the construction contractor in how they meet these requirements.

Measures for construction noise and vibration management include:

  • Meeting the Environment Protection Authority Victoria's guideline noise levels and other relevant noise and vibration standards
  • Limiting high vibration-causing activities to standard construction hours where possible. Any construction work proposed to take place outside of standard construction hours will be subject to a case by case approval process.
  • Implementing measures to minimise noise and vibration transference where necessary, for example using squawkers for reversing vehicles, acoustic sheds, noise barriers, noise and vibration monitoring (if guideline targets may be exceeded)
  • Guidance on safe and appropriate working distances for noise-causing and vibration causing activities
  • Completing property pre-condition surveys before construction begins where properties may be affected by vibration-causing activities
  • Ongoing communication and consultation with nearby residents to create awareness and understanding of project impacts prior to works occurring

These measures are consistent with the recommended EPRs for managing noise and vibration.

Noise and vibration modelling has been undertaken to further guide these measures. Regular noise and vibration monitoring will be conducted to make sure activities (during normal hours and out of hours) comply with the targets in the relevant EPRs. Monitoring data will also be used to check that the noise and vibration levels are consistent with predictive modelling.

Noise levels

Noise impact depends on the source of the noise and proximity of the receiver to it. In addition, people have varying reactions and sensitivities to noise.

The amount of noise generated by construction activities for the Metro Tunnel will vary depending on the site and the type of work being carried out. For instance, noise levels from above ground activities such as demolition and removal of excavated material will be different to noise from underground activities such as tunnelling activities.

Noise monitoring equipment is installed where required to monitor noise levels and enable the identification of appropriate further mitigation measures to be implemented.

Construction activities must comply with the project Environmental Management Framework (PDF, 1.2 MB).

Airborne Construction Noise Guideline Targets - EPR NV6

Time Period

Guideline noise levels

Up to 18 months after project commencement 18 months or more after project commencement

Normal working hours

(Mon-Fri: 7am – 6pm)
(Sat: 7am – 1pm)

No specified Guideline Noise Levels are provided in EPA 1254 – Refer to EPR NV21 for the noise management levels

Evening/weekend hours and public holidays

(Mon-Fri: 6pm – 10pm)
(Sat: 1pm - 10pm)
(Sun/Pub Hol: 7am - 10pm)

Noise level at any residential premises not to exceed background noise by 10 dB(A) or more.

Noise level at any residential premises not to exceed background noise (LA90 by dB (A) or more.

Night hours

(Mon-Sun: 10pm - 7am)

Noise is to be inaudible within a habitable room of any residential premises.

Airborne Noise Management Levels during Normal Working Hours - EPR NV21-1

Construction noise level

How to apply

Background noise level +10dB

The noise affected level represents the point above which there may be some community reaction to noise. Where the predicted or measured LAeq (15 min), due to construction noise from the Metro Tunnel project, is greater than the noise affected level, the proponent should apply all practicable work practices to meet the noise affected level. The proponent should also inform all potentially impacted residents of the nature of works to be carried out, the expected noise levels and duration, as well as contact details.

75 dB (A)

The highly noise affected level represents the point above which there may be strong community reaction to noise. Where construction noise from the Melbourne Metro project is above this level, the relevant authority may require respite periods by restricting the hours that the very noisy activities can occur, taking into account:

1. Times identified by the community when they are less sensitive to noise (such as before and after school for works near schools, or mid-morning or mid-afternoon for works near residences

2. If the community is prepared to accept a longer period of construction in exchange for restrictions on construction times

Other noise management measures contractors may apply if the guideline noise levels are exceeded, as specified in the Residential Impact Mitigation Guidelines appended to the Environmental Management Framework (PDF, 1.2 MB), including works notifications, earplugs, respite offers, phone calls and individual briefings.

For situations where out of hours works cannot be avoided (for example, rail occupations, delivery of oversize plant or tunnelling works), contractors must comply with the Residential Impact Mitigation Guidelines appended to the EMF and the mitigation measures presented therein.

Reversing beepers

Our contractors are required to prepare a construction Noise and Vibration Management Plan in accordance with Environmental Performance Requirement (EPR) NV21. The Noise and Vibration Management Plan identifies ways in which noise and vibration impacts from construction activities will be managed in accordance with EPR NV21, which includes the use of broadband reversing alarms on all plant, site vehicles and delivery vehicles at all times.

There may be occasions where, despite our best efforts, certain vehicles attending site are fitted with standard reversing alarms. If you do notice these, we encourage you to phone the Metro Tunnel Project Information Line on 1800 105 105 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week) to report your concerns. Any details you can provide regarding the vehicle (colour, type, registration) will help us to more quickly identify any offending vehicles.

Guideline working hours for airborne construction noise

Normal working hours 7am to 6pm Monday to Friday
7am to 1pm Saturday
Weekend /evening work 6pm to 10pm Monday to Friday
1pm to 10pm Saturday
7am to 10pm Sunday and Public Holidays
Night works 10pm to 7am Monday to Sunday

From time to time, certain unavoidable activities undertaken outside Normal Working Hours may create noise levels that are considered undesirable. Early consultation with potentially affected residents, businesses and facilities will determine ways to avoid or mitigate impacts. Measures may include temporary relocation for residents, if required.

Noise from construction vehicles, such as trucks, could at times impact residents living near work sites. Using designated traffic routes, restricting the use of local roads to Normal Working Hours where possible, and minimising night time movements will help to reduce potential impacts.

Vibration guidelines

The project has adopted the conservative German DIN 4150 guideline targets for managing the potential impacts of vibration on structures. With more stringent targets than the equivalent British Standard (BS 7385), applying DIN 4150 demonstrates Metro Tunnel's commitment to managing potential impacts.

The project will be constructed using a variety of heavy equipment which could generate ground-borne noise and vibration. At different stages, there is potential for this to have an impact on the comfort of people living or working near construction sites.

People and other receiver types can be sensitive to vibration and can detect vibration levels that are well below the threshold for causing any risk of damage to buildings. At certain stages of building the Metro Tunnel, temporarily elevated vibration levels around construction, demolition and tunnelling sites may trigger additional mitigation measures.

The Metro Tunnel project is committed to managing the impacts for communities (both residential and institutional) and will look at further mitigation measures, such as potentially offering temporary relocation, change of methods or respite if vibration or ground-borne noise levels are considered unacceptably intrusive.

Protecting buildings

The predicted levels of vibration as assessed in the EES indicate no structural damage, even for older or heritage buildings, is expected as a result of construction activities. It is standard practice on major projects to offer building condition surveys on potentially affected properties prior to construction work commencing nearby, including vibration generating activities.

In line with this approach, properties that could be affected by construction activities causing vibration will be offered pre-condition surveys. Copies of the survey reports will be provided to property owners. Surveys will also be carried out on hospitals, universities and research facilities containing vibration-sensitive equipment.

Key construction activities

Construction activities which may result in intermittent noise and vibration include:

  • Rock breaking – excavators with hammer attachments used to break up rock and concrete to enable excavation.
  • Piling – boring steel and concrete support structures below ground to support retaining walls and deep excavations, such as the tunnel shaft.
  • Vibratory rolling – used to compact fill material in order to reach required compaction levels, used during installation of piling pads and during road reinstatement as required.
  • The use of road saws, chainsaws and demolition saws during works.
  • The use of air compressors, mobile plant, generators and light towers.
  • Service location - Non-Destructive Digging (NDD) trucks.


Air-borne noise

May be continuous, impulsive or intermittent, and may contain high pitch or low dominating tones. The perception of noise by people and other noise sensitive receivers can vary widely and depends upon many factors including frequency. Noise is measured by a sound meter using the decibel scale.


The rapid movement of an object back and forth which occurs when it is displaced from its original position and returned to it. Vibration may be expressed in terms of displacement, velocity or acceleration. Construction vibration is usually measured as vibration velocity (Peak Particle Velocity in mm/ss) using an accelerometer or geophone. Vibration Dose Value is a metric used to accumulate vibration energy over a day or night time period to determine its impact on human comfort.

Ground-borne noise

Noise heard within a building that is generated by vibration transmitted through the ground into a structure. It is typically heard as a low frequency "rumbling" and is often referred to as "regenerated noise". Ground-borne noise is measured by a sound meter.