SCA Success! Overground Squeal at New Inn Yard Bend

Dear SCA,

Further to our conversation last week, I have now met with colleagues within the London Overground Environment and Maintenance teams to discuss the issues raised by your constituents.

We are aware that there has been an intermittent problem in this location and we are very sorry for the disturbance that this has caused to the local residents.  As you are probably aware, the issue is due to the tight curve of the railway track which causes the wheel screech.  Unfortunately this is one of the difficulties associated with building a new railway through the centre of a densely populated City where space is extremely limited.   As your email states, lubricators are installed to the side of the rails (and friction modifiers to the top of the rails) at strategic points along the track where this is a problem.  The track lubricators distribute lubricant to reduce the friction between the wheels and the track, which causes the noise.  Following the initial complaints we increased the regularity that our Maintenance Contractor checked and maintained the lubricators to ensure they were working properly.  There have since been modifications to improve the application of the lubrication to the track (and the top of rail friction modifier) and to change the type of lubricant and friction modifier used in the area, which did significantly improve the situation.  However it is evident that the problem has resurfaced.

There are many factors which affect the noise, including the number of people on the train, the speed at which it is moving, the condition of the rails/wheels and the weather – the latter being one over which we have little control.  We have a strict regime in place to ensure that the infrastructure of the railway and our train fleet is monitored and maintained so we can minimise the impact on our neighbours and provide a safe, efficient and reliable service to the local communities that we serve. However managing the lubrication regime is a delicate balancing act as although increasing the amount of lubricant applied will reduce the noise generated, too much lubricant can affect the braking of the trains and the track components. We therefore have to monitor and adjust this on an ongoing basis to ensure the safety of the railway.

To address the current problem, we are improving the noise monitoring in the area to allow us to more accurately assess the generated noise levels and respond quicker to any problems by reviewing/changing the lubrication regime. Although we will probably never be able to completely eradicate the noise, we are committed to diminish it as much as reasonably practicable.

Thank you for bringing this to our attention.  In the last month we have received in the region of 7 email complaints into the Customer Services correspondence team about wheel noise.  Your constituents mentioned that they had experienced problems in getting a response from enquire@tfl.gov.uk <mailto:enquire@tfl.gov.uk>  about this matter. We take our customer service responsibilities seriously and are not aware of any problems with this process, so I would be grateful if you could provide more detail about residents who have sent emails but not received a response so we can investigate.  It is worth noting that our Customer Service team target a 10 working days timeframe for all responses. They can also be contacted on 0843 222 1234 allowing issues to be highlighted to the correct team as soon as possible.

I do want to reiterate that we are taking this matter seriously and are currently working to minimise the wheel noise. I understand that you are keen to arrange a meeting between TfL, yourself and the residents to discuss the matter. I suggest that it would be more beneficial to have this discussion once we have some initial results from the noise monitoring, as this will inform the way in which we manage the issue going forward.  There is an internal meeting scheduled on site next Wednesday to establish the next steps so I hope to have more information about timings following this and will of course get back to you.

Kind regards
Emma

Emma Shannon | Infrastructure Communications Manager
London Rail and Underground |  Transport for London

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