Tube noise briefing

Tube noise is an issue I have been pursuing vigorously with TfL and I think I have got to the bottom of what has  caused  the relatively recent problems affecting people who had no noise issues for many years before.

It is a combination of factors.

Firstly,  TTL renewed the track, replacing the old wooden sleepers with concrete; and the rails with a new flatter profile rail which was fixed directly to the sleeper, with nothing between to deaden noise.

Tfl has also automated the trains on the Northern Line, the result of which has been to effect braking and accelerating of the trains at exactly the same point on the rail near stations, as opposed to when trains were driver controlled, so the wear on the rail was spread over a greater distance as each driver would brake etc at different points. The result of this is to increase the wear on the track and consequent ‘corrugation’ of the rail near stations.

TfL have now embarked on a programme of retrofitting what are in effect pads between the rail and the sleeper  to reduce the noise and vibration that is transmitted to the line’s ‘neighbours’ as a first stage in remedial work

This work, though is taking too long in my view and whilst it has it helped, it has had mixed results in some cases

TfL can retrofit 100m of track a week.

Work is now nearing completion at Mornington Crescent, where it has been going on for several months; there is about 1 km to treat, there. ( north and southbound on two branches of the line, so 4 stretches of track)

They then have a week’s work near Merton; and then are scheduled to come back, to do work near Kentish Town, which was originally scheduled for June, but there may be slippage. That work will take till September.

Their crews can be called off this work, to do other urgent maintenance ( e.g. a cracked rail replacement) which affects these programmes.

I have raised these delays with the Mayor and TfL, who  have now agreed to my request to hire more staff to engage  in remedial work, as it is  taking too long to address problems,   but I don’t have details of that expansion of the engineering teams as yet.

TfL prioritise where they do the work, by reference to a combination of the noise levels , the number of complaints from a particular location, and the ease or otherwise of the remedial work that can be done .