Nocturnal rattling from ‘noisy’ Night Tube prompts complaints across London

Map showing the current and future night tube network. Image: TransportJone (Creative Commons)
Map showing the current and future night tube network. Image: TransportJone (Creative Commons)

Parts of East London are still Night Tube noise hotspots two months on from its launch, internal Transport for London (TfL) documents show.

Households in Bethnal Green, Stepney and Spitalfields close to the route of the Central Line are among those that have most objected to noise from the Underground.

The Seven Sisters area and large tracts of the Northern Line have also been flagged as noisy sections of the network.

A round-the-clock service already operates on Fridays and Saturdays on the Central, Victoria and Jubilee lines and has sparked complaints from people being kept awake in the early hours of the morning by the sounds of rattling rails.

Anne Orsi, who runs Verdi’s restaurant in Stepney and has lived off Mile End Road for 20 years, said noise from the Tube now reached 46 decibels and was keeping her awake.

She told London Citizen: “I’m sat in the house, and every two or three minutes, it roars. Then you are sitting there waiting for that train, almost.

“If you’re reading a book you are waiting for that train to roar across. The noise wakes me up at night. It’s been getting progressively worse for the last 10 years.”

Orsi said TfL had told her it would soon be “shaving the rails” to reduce “grinding” on sections of the line to make them rattle less.

She added: “They should have done that before the Night Tube was launched. It’s quite obvious – if there’s going to be noise, it’s going to be 24 hours now on Fridays and Saturdays.

“Out of consideration and courtesy, this work should have been done beforehand. It’s not as if they didn’t know.”

Stepney resident Anne Orsi is among those who have complained
Stepney resident Anne Orsi is among those who have complained

The Night Tube will be extended to the Northern Line on 8 November and to the Piccadilly Line by the end of this year – prompting fears similar problems could arise for residents who live close to those parts of the network.

Kevin Lee, who lives near Baker Street Station and is part of the Tube Noise Action Group, said issues said disturbance from the Jubilee Line had reduced some residents to tears and vibrations caused by trains even led cups and windows in some homes to shake.

These issues have now largely been fixed by engineers, but Lee advised anyone experiencing such problems to “be persistent” as TfL could “fob you off”.

“They’ll come back and say ‘The tube’s 160 years old,’” he said “Ok, fine – but they’ve got a multi-billion pound budget – they can put in the work.”

He added: “This problem exists all over London – I can’t see it being related to one particular track or one particular line.”

Steps TfL is taking to reduce noise from the Tube include installing special shock absorbers on some parts of the track to make it less loud.

Caroline Pidgeon, who heads the London Assembly’s Transport Committee, has previously voiced concern about the impact of the Night Tube in areas surrounding stations.

Private hire vehicles touting illegally for business, noise from revellers leaving stations and a lack of public toilets have been among the potential issues she has identified.

Today she said paying compensation should even be considered by TfL in cases where it was not possible to ameliorate noisiness.

She described the Night Tube and its wider rollout as an “incredibly welcome development” for the economy and also provides “cheap and safe” transport to night workers.

But she added: “However, all these benefits must not be at the expense of those people who live near to Tube lines where noise levels are in some cases already a problem, even before the start of the Night Tube.

“Reducing the grinding of rails and tackling other causes of noise pollution created by the Tube has never been more important. Where necessary if noise levels cannot be tackled compensation should even be considered for some residents.”

Members of the Assembly have also been making inquiries about night time noise created by the increased movement of freight on some train lines at night.

Brian Woodhead, operations director for London Underground, said: “We completely understand how important it is to minimise noise for our neighbours and we are doing everything possible to do so.

“Our team of engineers that is dedicated to reducing Tube noise‎ carried out a huge programme of preparatory work ahead of the launch of the Night Tube, replacing and grinding over 500km of track and introducing ‎new resilient track fastenings and shock absorbent fixings, which‎ help reduce the sound when the trains run over them.

“I would urge anyone worried about noise to get in touch with us so we can come and investigate and work out how we can mitigate noise most effectively.”

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