Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Thursday, 11 June 2009 13:26 UK

Call to limit rail freight speed


'The freight carrier began operating night runs last year

Tests have revealed freight carriers using the reopened Alloa rail link to transport coal at night are breaching accepted noise and vibration levels.

Residents in Stirling, Clackmannanshire and Falkirk have complained that coal runs to Longannet Power Station are damaging homes and disturbing sleep.

During a Scottish Parliament debate on the issue, Michael Matheson MSP said the test results were a concern.

He wants Network Rail to introduce strict speed restrictions on the route.

The Falkirk West SNP member said analysis carried out by Falkirk Council showed the night coal runs by freight company DB Shenker were creating a substantial vibration problem.

He said the average vibration level for DB Shenker trains was 0.075 millimetres per second and could reach up to 0.091 mm per second.

These results show that since the line began to be used to transport coal to Longannet by DB Shenker, the vibration caused has become a real concern
Michael Matheson MSP

That is in contrast to Freightliner Limited trains who also use the route to transport coal to the Fife power station.

Tests revealed they created a vibration level of just 0.025 millimetres per second.

Mr Matheson said the different readings could be attributed to the speed of the trains and the different coal wagons used by the companies.

He added: "These results show there is a marked difference in the impact these two companies are having on residents, particularly in the Larbert area.

"The people of Larbert have had a train line in their community since 1848 and so are used to trains.

"But these results show that since the line began to be used to transport coal to Longannet, the vibration caused has become a real concern."

Compensation payouts

Prior to the reopening of the Alloa rail link in 2008, coal was transported to Longannet by road via the Forth Road Bridge.

Tests carried out by Clackmannanshire Council at 11 sites in the county have also revealed high levels of noise disturbance caused by the freight runs.

The local authority has already written to DB Shenker urging them to reduce the speed of trains using the track at night.

Mr Matheson said if speed restrictions were not introduced along the route, other mitigation measures would have to be taken to limit the impact of the freight runs, which could include compensation payouts to residents.

Transport Minister Stewart Stevenson acknowledged the issue was creating genuine concern for those living near the line.

He said: "I accept that there is a problem and we need to gather more data to see where the solution lies."

He called on DB Shenker and Network Rail to improve their efforts to deal with the problem.

He added: "We will play our part in making sure that the interested parties play their part in addressing these issues."

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