Noisy Tube Trains and Stations (Supplementary) [5]

Session date: 
May 23, 2007
Question By: 
Angie Bray
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


I am very disappointed, Mr Livingstone. That sounded to me like a typical provided answer from the officials at TfL. It is not even as good as the answer you gave me last time when at least you demonstrated some sympathy for the problem we are facing here. Unfortunately you are taking us backwards with that kind of response. It is absolutely true that you and Tim O'Toole very kindly went all the way to Earls Court. I try not to be a cynic in these matters, but it is absolutely true to say that the week around the time that your visit was happening, the volume levels went down to what most of the residents consider to be an almost acceptable level. Unfortunately a week later they had gone right back up again. I do not want to be cynical about this but I have to tell you that the residents round there, that greeted you rather enthusiastically, feel very, very desperate about it.

Interest that was being shown by Mr O'Toole but now we have gone right back to getting the typical formula letter saying, `Please refer any complaints about unacceptably loud noise to the station management on the platform'. That is where the problem started and that is where it still seems to lie. We have a station manager at Earls Court who simply has an attitude of, `I am here to run trains', which is not the case when the station sits right up above ground amongst a very heavily residential area. It cannot be his sole purpose in life; he has to take on the further responsibilities.

It is not just Earls Court. It does seem to be a pattern where it is District Lines and Piccadilly Lines, in particular, and it does seem to be the case that it is often occurring where the stations have been refurbished. It is the new system that is causing problems. If you talk to residents who live around Earls Court, some of them have lived there for 20 years, and they say it is only in the last two years that they have started worrying about the volume of the announcements. It is all very well for Mr O'Toole and you to say, `Well, we are cutting back on unnecessary announcements'. Most people will tell us that they do not mind actually how many announcement there are, providing they are at an acceptable volume level which means that it does not bother them.

I have to set the background to this, because it is not just Earls Court now. It is Putney Bridge, Ealing Common, Chiswick Park and Turnham Green. A lot of my colleagues here will be able to name other stations. It is spreading, and I suspect that is following the refurbishment pattern.

My question is, you did promise last time round that you would review not only the Earls Court system which is now, as you said, under a Noise Abatement Order, but that you would look at the whole system across the network about these announcements; we have not got on yet to what is happening on the tube trains. What is happening with that promise that you made me in November 2006 when you gave me an undertaking, `London Underground has agreed to look at its PA systems at all stations concerning sound levels'? What actions have come out of that promise?


Answer for Noisy Tube Trains and Stations (Supplementary) [5]

Answer for Noisy Tube Trains and Stations (Supplementary) [5]

Answered By: 
The Mayor

I would be very surprised if there was a cynical reduction of the sound levels while I was there, because they know you are going to come back.

Angie Bray (AM): All right, coincidental or what?

Mayor (Ken Livingstone): I have a feeling - it is purely anecdotal - that as we replace these sound systems the ones that were there before were as loud as now but they were largely unintelligible so what residents had was a background sort of noise; now they can hear the announcement it cuts through into their consciousness and registers in a way it did not. I was looking at this; I have a huge long background note here. It seems to me we are still doing standard routine messages which are unnecessary. I find them irritating when I am on the Underground. I do not know how many times I need to be told not to smoke and to stand back from the front of the platform. I will sit down with Tim [O'Toole] and go back and check that there has not been any change in the volume following our visit, and perhaps just to start cutting down to the absolute legal health and safety minimum on these notices.