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‘We need a long-term solution to terrible tube noise’

Screeches from trains beneath homes of residents above the King’s Cross to Highbury and Islington stretch of the Victoria line

22 November, 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Mark Geday and Roger Baldwin in Cloudsley Square

A LONG-term solution is needed to quieten the noise from the Underground in Islington homes after four years of disruption, say residents.

At least 30 homes above the King’s Cross to Highbury and Islington stretch of the Victoria line have experienced an increased volume of noise from the tube.

Mark Geday, a lawyer who lives in Cloudsley Square, said it suddenly spiked in 2015 and became even worse when Transport for London replaced the tracks earlier this year.

“The noise became truly terrible then. It was like having a station in your house,” the 50-year-old said. “My son sleeps on the top floor and was waking up from the noise.”

His 83-year-old neighbour Roger Baldwin said: “It was almost like standing on a platform – it really was a crescendo as it came past.”

This autumn, TfL has ground a 400m stretch of the southbound rail, lessening noise for some, but Neil Smith, who lives in Cloudsley Street, said they want firm answers on what is causing the noise and what is being done to solve it permanently.

“Some residents have received letters that maybe some more grinding might occur in the spring of next year, but it’s not official,” he said.

“We want a long-term solution, as our concern is that ‘OK, we have a brief respite but over the coming months, will it deteriorate again?’ What is the guarantee that it won’t?”

Residents across different parts of London have complained about the rumble and vibrations from Underground transport keeping them awake at night.

At a meeting with the authorities in July, it was heard how TfL had U-turned on a decision to retire a second grinding machine because of the issues.

London Assembly member Jennette Arnold said earlier this month: “For too long, a number of my constituents have been subject to hugely disruptive tube noise generated by Victoria line services between Highbury and Islington and King’s Cross stations.

“I have brought this urgent issue to the attention of TfL on several occasions, as well as meeting with the deputy mayor for transport to
find a way forward.

“Unfortunately, it has now emerged that TfL’s plan of action is progressing at a glacial pace. This clearly isn’t good enough, so I have written to the mayor to intervene and take control of the situation.”

TfL say they are monitoring the results of the recent grinding before making any decision on their next steps.

Peter McNaught, London Underground’s director of asset operations, said: “We understand the effect that noise from the tube can have on our neighbours, and we are committed to doing everything possible to keep noise levels as low as we can.

“We have met with residents and local representatives in Islington about their concerns and have carried out grinding work on the Victoria line rails which has made a positive difference.

“We will continue to monitor noise levels in the area and to liaise with residents.”

Earlier this year, a tube drivers’ union declared a “massive victory” in a row over noise below round in the tunnels. RMT halted industrial action saying transport bosses had agreed to a list of demands after last-minute talks.

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