Page last updated at 17:27 GMT, Wednesday, 2 December 2009

Railway screech angers residents


Westminster City Council said the noise was within acceptable limits

People living near London's Victoria station are being disturbed by a regular loud screeching noise from passing trains, they have said.

Residents of the Woods House development in south-west London say the trains screech as they move along dry railway tracks 24 hours a day.

Residents Association head Patrick Haile described the noise as "completely unbearable".

Westminster City Council said the noise was within acceptable limits.

Woods House is part of the Grosvenor Waterside development, which includes a mixture of private and council housing.

Heart attack

Council tenant Mr Haile was offered an apartment in March which faces the railway tracks.

He said: "They are beautiful flats but they do have an overheating problem.

"The only way we can get around that is to open our doors but as soon as you open the doors we have the screeching trains."

Mr Haile sleeps wearing earplugs to reduce the noise. He suffered a heart attack earlier this year, which he blamed on stress caused by the screeching.

Unfortunately when residential property is built on the doorstep of an operational railway some noise is unavoidable
Network Rail

"We understand that there are 10 mainline tracks, so we know there is going to be some noise.

"But it's the screeching on the dry tracks that's just completely unbearable."

The World Health Organisation said noise can begin to cause stress at a level of over 50 decibels.

BBC London recorded noise levels of up to 92 decibels from inside a Woods House apartment as trains passed.

A Network Rail spokesperson said the noise was caused by train wheels rubbing against the rails when travelling on curves in the track at low speeds.

He said: "We have been in discussion with environmental health officers at Westminster Council about ways to minimise the impact of railway noise for our line-side neighbours on the approach to Victoria."

These include plans to install lubrication units to reduce track friction, he added.

"Unfortunately when residential property is built on the doorstep of an operational railway some noise is unavoidable."

Westminster City Council said apartments within the Grosvenor Waterside development were soundproofed and that earlier this year council inspectors found that noise levels were "well within normal parameters".

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