Nicola has been continuing her drive to protect local residents from noise and vibration pollution as a result of the new East West Rail line running through North Oxford.
Last March, Nicola held a public meeting with key representatives from Network Rail, Oxford City Council, Chiltern Railways, and Environmental Resources Management (ERM) as well as the Rail Minister, Claire Perry MP, who stressed the need for collaborative working to ensure residents are protected as well as for greater communication from Network Rail.
Since then the City Council have attached further conditions, including on increased noise and vibration monitoring along the line, in order to ensure that noise and vibration limits are not exceeded. If they are, Network Rail will be required to undertake further measures until full compliance is achieved.
Crucially, Network Rail appear to have held back on a key commitment made at the public meeting which will see a new track form trialled on the EWR route. Tata Silent Track is used in Germany and designed to lessen the noise impact of the rail line. However, Nicola has been disappointed to learn from Network Rail, a year on, that this pilot will not get underway until six months after the line is opened, meaning that planning conditions on noise limits will be breached.
Nicola therefore requested a meeting with Claire Perry to update her on this and to ask that she intervenes to hold Network Rail to account on its commitments. The Minister agreed with Nicola that, unless Network Rail could provide clear, incontrovertible evidence that the silent track was already proven unsuitable for noise reduction on UK railways, the silent track pilot should be brought forward.
Nicola says Network Rail must do all in their power to protect residents whose daily lives will be affected by this rail line. Local people want investment in rail infrastructure, but they are right to expect their concerns to be listened to and acted upon.
The Rail Minister and I will be taking this forward with Network Rail to determine why a pilot is necessary and how we can speed up this process. I am determined to ensure our noise mitigation measures are robust.