Saturday 5 September 2020

MP and Assembly Member join battle against the Jubilee line screechers

Barry Gardiner MP and Navin Shah London Assembly Member for Brent and Harrow have backed local campaigners whose lives have been blighted by a loud screech made by Jubilee line trains at a curve in the track in Kingsbury.

For over 2 years, houses that back onto the Jubilee Line’s Kingsbury Curve and farther afield have been affected by the increase in noise levels from the passing trains.

Residents are unable to socialise or relax in their gardens.  People cannot sleep.  Those working from home in the heat of the summer are unable to open their windows due to the noise disturbance.  The Jubilee Line is on the Night Time network so on Friday and Saturdays, when it starts running again, there will be no let-up through the night.

In desperation, two neighbours from either side of the tracks, Anne Bovett and Karen Flaum, met by chance and decided to take action.  Having written to TfL on a number of occasions and urging neighbours to do the same, they have now presented their MP Barry Gardiner with a petition of over 200 signatories asking him to take up their request for the speed limit on the Curve to be re-introduced, believing this will curb the noise.

Quotes from neighbours:
  •  The noise is affecting my ability work from home as I can’t open the window.
  •  We can hear the noise from our house 200m away
  •  Cannot hear anybody in garden or hear TV or phone when train passe
  •  We are long overdue for some peace
  •  The frequency of the trains results in a continuous barrage of noise.
  •  I cannot stay in the garden for any length of time.

Due to the pandemic, rather than go door-to-door with the petition, Anne Bovett and Karen Flaum posted individual copies into homes in Ravenscroft Avenue, Uxendon Hill and surrounding roads and hoped that neighbours would sign.  They did!

 The campaigners sent the petition to Barry Gardiner who wrote to Andy Byford, Commissioner at Transport for London asking that he:
  • provides an update regarding the progress that has been made to investigate possible solutions and take readings at affected properties
  • passes on the documents provided which sets out the concerns of residents so that they can be reviewed and assessed by the appropriate team when investigating the solutions available.
  • ensures the request of the 205 signatories for a reduction in speed to 20mph on The Kingsbury Curve is appropriately considered as a possible measure to improve the noise pollution that residents are having to endure.
  • ensures that affected residents are consulted throughout this process and they are provided with assurances that the necessary steps are being taken by TfL to address their concerns.

Navin Shah went as far as to threaten to pick up a banner and join the campaigners when he wrote to Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport:
Over two years TfL’s efforts at lowering noise levels at the above location(s) have failed and local residents are seeking renewed and urgent action to get their quality of life back from the persistent intrusive noise. I am writing to you to express my strong support to their concerns and help my constituents to regain the ‘quieter life’ as they put it.  

FYI in early June this year, grease output of the track lubricant on Kingsbury curve was increased to reduce the screeching of rails but this has failed. Recently Mr Barros the TfL Noise and Vibration engineer visited the locality and confirmed the noise levels had increased. His report is awaited to confirm the current situation 

I am hugely disappointed that despite so many investigations, inspections, email writings not a hint of the progress of equal to a tip of a pin can be presented to the residents of the area. I feel ashamed because this is the only task I have failed for residents. Please note I want to see demonstrable progress and want it as soon as possible otherwise I will have no alternative but to pick up the banners along with others and start campaigning with the local  residents without any ifs or buts. There must remain the urgent need and genuine desire for bringing back noise level to a bearable level for residents any further delay would be unacceptable for the goodwill and respect we have for each other.  TFL must act now, please.
The Director of Assets for London Underground told the Kilburn Times LINK that they were aware of the concerns of residents who lived around the Kingsbury Curve and had been told that recent work on the track had not reduced noise sufficiently.  They will investigate additional measures including alternative lubrication for train wheels. 

A wider solution which would require more fundamental change was suggested by Cedric Lynch who commenting on the story said:
Train wheel treads used to be machined to a slightly conical shape that allowed them to roll quietly round curves because the flanges did not have to touch the rails to make the wheels follow the curve. This wheel shape was found to cause "hunting" (a rapid oscillation) at high speeds on British Rail trains and was changed to a perfectly cylindrical shape that stopped the hunting but caused screeching on curves. Perhaps the solution is to go back to the conical shape on Underground trains, which do not go fast enough for hunting to be a problem.

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