Calls for caps on Tube train speed limits under Barbican


Residents in the heart of the City are calling for speed restrictions on late night Tube trains after a trial found a “significant” reduction in noise pollution in a test to cut noise 5m below flats on the Barbican Estate.

The tests were done the evening after the City of London Corporation said some residents were suffering from “unacceptably high levels of noise and vibration” at Brandon Mews in the Barbican, from trains passing over points.

This is despite work Transport for London (TfL) has done to reduce noise. People living on the iconic estate say the problem has got worse over the last three years, with the introduction of new trains and cuts to TfL’s maintenance budget.

Barbican Association member Richard Collins has been lobbying TfL to tackle the problem.

He said: “Some people are badly affected, it has been very intrusive with noise and pollution.”

The last trains run about 12.30am and start up again at 5.13am. Mr Collins said when the trains run “it is fairly constant with trains running at about three-minute intervals.”

He added: “You can imagine how intrusive it is going to be when they run more services on those lines, which is the Mayor’s intention.”.

And he said that he thought the Mayor of London’s fare freezes have not helped as TfL tackles maintenance across the network.

A report by TfL engineers presented to City of London councillors revealed the temporary speed restrictions on the Hammersmith & City and Metropolitan lines under Brandon Mews cut decibel levels by 7dbel.

The tests were run between 8.33pm and 12.53am to see what impact they would have.

According to the City of London’s own report: “The character of the noise experienced is a deep and loud impulsive noise where the heavily loaded wheel bumps across the open gap at the crossover of about 10cm.”

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Mr Collins said: “What we would like to see is the removal of the crossovers, where the trains can switch between the eastbound and westbound tracks to Aldgate that’s really key and we would like TfL to have a higher maintenance budget.

“The Barbican is a particular instance, when it was built the tunnel the trains run on between Barbican and Moorgate station is actually an integral part of the structure of estate so people living in some of the blocks are living in concrete-framed structures that are directly linked to the concrete box through which the trains run and it’s a brilliant way of transmitting noise and vibration to people’s homes.

“It’s a particular problem for people living in Brandon Mews because there’s very little headroom between the top of the tunnel running into Aldgate and the floor of the houses in Brandon Mews.”

Recently, TfL relaid track for about 200m between Barbican and Moorgate stations “that has reduced the noise and vibration for people living in Defoe House and Lambert Jones Mews, but done nothing for people in Brandon Mews,” said Mr Collins.

According to the City of London Corporation’s own report there will be “further mitigation works proposed post 2021 when the remaining rail joints will be removed following completion of the signalling upgrade” which should also make things better for people in the tower block at Defoe House and Lambert Jones Mews.

In August TfL did some work on the track underneath Brandon Mews and tested its impact together with a speed limit one night in November.

During the trial trains went 55% slower at 15mph instead of their usual 35mph at the spot 5.5m below Brandon Mews.

The TfL report said resident feedback showed the speed reduction meant things “improved significantly and that the thunderous thumps and vibrations he experienced were a lot lower”.

The Corporation plans to continue lobbying TfL for noise and vibration mitigation. TfL has been approached for comment.

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