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Tube noise on estate ‘is like an earthquake’

Residents living above Underground trains call for switching plate to be removed

11 October, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Cllr Mary Durcan and James Ball standing beside the Brandon Mews garages. The tube runs underneath the ramp on the left

BARBICAN estate residents are calling for major action be taken to stop disruptive “earthquake-like vibrations” underneath their homes.

Shahnan Bakth said at times his family home in Brandon Mews is like sitting in the tube station when carriages on the Circle, Metropolitan and Hammersmith and City lines pass directly below.

He said: “It’s a huge disturbance. You get what is an earthquake-like vibration and thumping sound as every train comes through.”

The only respite from the noise they get is about four hours between the last tube shortly before 1am and the first tube at about 5am.

Mr Bakth has even taken steps to install white-noise-type machines to try and distract from the noise and vibrations between Moorgate and Barbican stations.

He said: “It vibrates into the bed, it’s actually worse when you are asleep as you’re face down and the vibrations are coming down directly into your ear.

“We have a four-year-old, she’s kind of OK sleeping through it right now, but as she gets older and realises what it is, that’s a concern.”

Residents have rallied together with local councillors to lobby for Transport for London to take long-term action on the issue. They want a points and crossings – also known as a crossing plate where trains can switch tracks during disruption or emergencies – to be moved away from under the homes.

Mary Durcan, City of London councillor for Cripplegate Ward, said: “The residents believe that the only significant and long-term solution to the noise and vibration is the removal or relocation of the crossing plate and will continue to press for this action.

“In the meantime, we urge TfL to do all that they can to alleviate the problem.”

She added about moving the crossing: “We realise there are cost implications to this and in the meantime TfL have checked and cleaned up the track, have taken sound measurements and are looking at the ­feasi­bility of restricting the speed of the trains.”

Mr Bakth claimed other remedies put in place by TfL do not appeared to have worked. He said the average reading in his flat at the moment is 60 decibels – the equivalent of a louder than normal conversation.

A report commissioned by the City of London last year found that the level would be above industry standards. Noise level measurements in Defoe House and Lambert Jones Mews were also above World Health Organisation night-time thresholds.

He said he was told that the crossing plate movement could cost millions.

TfL say it’s “not about the cost” but the “function of the points in their current location”.

James Ball, who also lives in Brandon Mews, said he first noticed the increased vibrations and noise a few years ago.

The 68-year-old said: “I really noticed it when glasses started rattling. It’s a constant noise. You lie down to go to sleep and rumble, rumble, rumble. When the first trains run you go ‘oh God, it’s 5am. It’s too early to get up’. TfL should be silencing this.”

Heidi Alexander, deputy mayor of London for Transport, and Mark Field, MP for Cities of London and Westminster, visited the home of an affected resident over the summer.

Mr Field said in a blog post that despite rail replacement work on the Hammersmith and Circle line, which did produce a measurable improvement in noise and vibration levels, a “serious problem persists”.

TfL said it spends approximately £150m a year on track improvement and maintenance.

Peter McNaught, London Underground’s director of asset operations, said: “We understand the importance of minimising noise levels on the tube and we are determined to mitigate and reduce noise and vibration where practicable.

“We are aware of a noise issue on the Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan line around Barbican and have carried out a number of track renewal works in the area.

“For operational reasons we are unable to move the rail crossing under the estate but we are continuing to explore alternative options and engaging with local residents and representatives.

“I encourage anyone affected by noise to contact our dedicated customer services line, which is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”

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