Complaints over noise from Banbury sidings forces Chiltern Rail to act

Joby Mullen outside Banbury train station NNL-180923-133850009
Joby Mullen outside Banbury train station NNL-180923-133850009

Chiltern Railways is to change working practices at its new sidings in Banbury to alleviate noise that is preventing local residents from sleeping.

The company has admitted the noise levels are a problem to householders.

And Chiltern has pledged to make the ‘operational changes’ straight away in a bid to lower the noise.

Joby Mullens, who lives in an apartment nearby, has been complaining to Cherwell District Council’s environmental department and Chiltern for over a year about idling engines and air brakes going off through the night.

He said an environmental officer had ‘slipped out’ that Cherwell’s recorded noise levels were above permitted limits. Cherwell denied his Freedom of Information request for Chiltern’s noise report saying it was confidential.

Cherwell met with Chiltern last month to discuss the situation and search for a solution.

A council spokesman said: “The assessment by Chiltern Railways confirmed that noise levels as a result of trains idling in the sidings are a problem at nearby residential properties when there are no train movements on the mainline.

“Chiltern Railways believe they can reduce the levels through operational changes to minimise the number of movements and the amount of time the trains are idling.

“They will start implementing these straight away but as the changes will also involve mainline drivers and not just the drivers operating the trains in the sidings, they said it may take a period of time to fully implement and embed.”

She said the council has given Chiltern three months to deal with the situation after which another noise assessment will be made.

“Three months might seem a long time but we have to allow a reasonable period of time for the changes to be implemented and assessed. Having said this, we have asked that they start investigating further mitigation that could be implemented should the operational changes not have the desired effect on the noise levels.”

Cherwell has proposed installing noise monitoring equipment in Mr Mullens’ flat this month and in January.

Railengineer.uk reports the new sidings depot was formerly a British Rail engine shed which was demolished in the 1970s. It can accommodate up to 58 rail vehicles with up to four Network Rail track maintenance vehicles. Its use is stabling and maintenance, servicing, cleaning and fuelling, with most of this taking place overnight.