TfL must tackle the noise


The screeching at Paddington enough to drive people on the platform away from the trains

From screeching along the platform and rattling residents living above and around tube lines with noise and vibrations, you can not get away from tube noise nuisance in Central London.

So l was glad to see that our local paper – Westminster Extra along with it sister papers – Camden New Journal & Islington Tribune – have taken up the issue of screeching tube noise on the platforms of the tube for both passengers and those working on the Tube on the Northern line as it reports tube noise levels just like being at a rock gig along the platforms of Camden tube stations like Tufnell Park, Kentish Town, Camden Town & Euston. Where perks of 109.5 decibels have been recorded. And daily commutes of around 30-45 minutes are sufficient to cause long-lasting and irreversible hearing loss.

But let us also not forget the screeching at Paddington Bakerloo Tube station. The Bakerloo line North of Paddington has been falling to pieces for a while and it starts with the screeching of the Bakerloo line trains going through Paddington. The piercing sound is enough to drive people on the platform away from the trains and not entering the carriages of the tube! It would be great if similar recordings of the noise can be made by experts like Dr Sollini and report back how it measures against the other lines already recorded. The Bakerloo line desperately needs an upgrade but let us at least get the  basics right while managing the line with issues like reducing the screeching. Do remember it was only a few years ago when the line had the worst seating on the tube!!!! And it was only repaired by TfL when it was highlighted to them by the general public on twitter.

Tube noise and vibrations has also been an issue for long suffering residents living above and around stations on tube lines something l first brought up at City Hall with the previous Mayor, Boris Johnson when the night tube proposal was first being investigated operationally. He famously said that he would not let the service begin if it is “….rattling residents tea cups at three o’clock in the morning” If the responses to media coverage, blogs l have written and day-to-day conversations in neighbourhoods like Marylebone are anything to go by, the number of cases has increased substantial across much of Inner London. As long suffering Londoners come out and tell their stories. It ranges from very loud announcements on the platforms to noises from the tracks in deep tube tunnels as it appears the speed and frequency of trains going through tunnels has gone up causing them sleepless nights and mental fatigue. So the first thing we could have from Transport for London (TfL) is a full acknowledgement of where the problems are with the latest update of all the complaints that have been received in the public domain.  Furthermore a study of the levels of noise across all the tube lines with some academic rigour to see if any patterns are emerging that can tell us what type of strategy is required to bring the levels of noise and vibration disturbance down. Something that was last done by the London South Bank, University Acoustic Group.

Thankfully the London Assembly has taken up the issues with affected residents being given the floor at Committee meetings to air their complaints at City Hall recently just before the Christmas break. This while the Mayor has a statutory responsibility for ambient noise in Greater London is hopefully covered within his all encompassing environmental strategy, as undoubtedly noise is the main environmental concern of Londoners when we remember this includes aircraft noise as well around London airports.

And finally, surely a public body like Transport for London should acknowledge its has a statutory responsibility for such public nuisance caused by the noise of the tubes it operates over WHO recommended levels. Causing its residential neighbours, employers and passenger much nuisance. It should not have to take a test case in the High Courts for them to accept their responsibilities to their London neighbours, passengers and staff before full mitigation works are undertaken to deal with such headaches for many Londoners going about their daily life.    

Finally this blog has kindly been published in the Westminster Extra (1st Feb 2019 edition)




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