*** UPDATE MARCH 2016***
The campaign for adequate noise and vibration on the new East West Rail route through Oxford continues, and Nicola is keeping up the pressure on the Department for Transport. Oxford City Council have successfully attached additional conditions on to the planning permission which mean that any variation from the stated operational pattern will have to be lodged as a separate application. On top of this, continuous monitoring will be required of both vibration and noise levels at agreed positions on certain parts of the line.
But Network Rail have disputed several of the City Councils conditions, and have still not committed to input Tata Silent Track which has the support of local residents and the Council. Network Rail informed Nicola in December that the rail line will be opened without the Tata product for six months before installing it only in a trial area.
Nicola has therefore met with the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, again to make clear the concerns of local residents on this and ensure Network Rail is held to account. Nicola pressed on the reasons for the requirement of a trial, when the product has been used in other areas, as well as the positioning for noise barriers and progress on electrification of the route as this will make a difference to noise and vibration.
The Minister has asked her officials from the Department of Transport to investigate further and they will be coming to Oxford to discuss outstanding concerns with the City Council and Network Rail.
Nicola is deeply concerned to learn of a legal challenge to the City Council’s conditions, and also to learn from Network Rail in a letter to the Council in May 2016 that Tata Silent Track will not be installed due to cost.
Nicola will be raising these issues with the Department for Transport and Network Rail at the upcoming meeting.
***UPDATE MARCH 2015***
On 5th March 2015 Nicola held a public meeting, attended by almost 100 local residents, ahead of crucial planning deadlines. Nicola ensured the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, as well as representatives from Network Rail, Oxford City Council, Chiltern Railways, and Environmental Resources Management (ERM) as the consultancy appointed by Network Rail to undertake the Scheme of Assessment for Noise along the rail route, to address local concerns about unanswered questions on vibration and noise mitigation.
The Minister was able to answer residents’ questions with regard to how Network Rail is held to account, and has promised to write to the Chief Executive of Network Rail to ask that an advanced track form, Tata Silent Track, is advanced as quickly as possible as it may help to significantly reduce noise and vibration.
The City Council and Network Rail made a clear commitment to better communication with local residents, and have promised to put some key clarifications down in writing including:
Nicola is keeping up the pressure here. To get updates from Nicola on this contact firstname.lastname@example.org
TAKE ACTION: SIGN NICOLA’S RAIL NOISE PETITION
Like all climate-conscious residents living in Oxford, Nicola is a strong supporter of increased rail investment and has welcomed Chiltern Rail’s progress on the new Oxford Parkway Station at Water Eaton. The benefits of more passenger trains are obvious for the whole region but, of course, increased traffic on the line will affect those who live close by.
Nicola raised these concerns at the Public Inquiry that approved the new station in 2009 and one of the planning conditions imposed on Chiltern Rail was to mitigate the impact on local residents as much as possible. Oxford City Council are responsible for overseeing this process.
Despite Nicola raising this issue on a number of occasions with Oxford City Council and Chiltern Rail recently, however, many local residents do not believe that are in fact doing all they can to protect their homes from the increased noise pollution.
For this reason, in addition to arranging a meeting between residents and Oxford City Council, Nicola has launched a petition calling on Oxford City Council and Chiltern Rail to live up to their promises on noise mitigation. Add your voice to her campaign by filling in your details below.
UPDATE: Following representations from Nicola and local residents, Oxford City Council have appointed a second expert to review their independent expert’s findings about Chiltern Rail’s mitigation proposals.