Night Tube (1)

MQT on 2017-08-10
Session date: 
August 10, 2017
Question By: 
Keith Prince
GLA Conservatives
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Given the failure of engineering solutions to ameliorate Night Tube Noise at the eastern end of the Central Line, is there an honourable alternative to TfL paying for triple glazing for those residents adversely affected?


Answer for Night Tube (1)

Answer for Night Tube (1)

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Thank you for your question.  Protecting the interests of London’s residents, workers and visitors is vital when developing London as a 24‑hour city.  One in eight jobs in the capital is at night.  This is set to grow in the coming years.  Night Tube services are already playing a key role in opening up London’s night‑time economy with the network estimated to provide a boost of £77 million a year and support around 2,000 permanent jobs.  However, a balance must be struck between work, play and sleep for London’s 8.8 million residents. 


TfL has a dedicated team of specialists to investigate and respond to noise complaints.  This has improved its ability to identify hotspots and target interventions.  This is particularly so in summer months when windows are often left open during the course of a hot night.  TfL is dealing with the source of the noise, such as the trains and the tracks they run on directly.  This is a more effective long‑term investment than other measures such as triple glazing.  There is no single solution to resolving track noise.  However, the installation of over 10,000 shock absorbent track fixings, for example, has had a positive impact in a number of hotspots, including some of the east end of the Central line. 


Elsewhere TfL has identified a number of opportunities to proactively reduce noise levels, such as at Wanstead, Woodford and Bethnal Green stations.  At Wanstead TfL is installing resilient track fastenings, a rail damping system.  It will be re‑measuring noise levels to determine the benefit.  At Woodford TfL is trialling Quiet Rail, an innovative compound applied to the web of the rail that hardens and should act as a damper.  At Bethnal Green, TfL has re‑railed the track and awaits follow‑up readings to assess any reductions in noise.


TfL and my Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross [Valerie Shawcross CBE], acknowledge that issues remain.  That is why we continue to look for other solutions.  TfL is trialling new technology to help reduce noise in open sections of track.  It has a programme of rail grinding and other track work to make sure that rails are kept smooth and as quiet as possible across the network.  We will continue to do what we can for TfL to be a good neighbour while delivering the world‑class levels of service, day and night, that are needed to enable the growth of the city.


Keith Prince AM:  Thank you, Mr Mayor.  No one can really criticise TfL for not trying because I have had a number of meetings with it and with residents.  Believe you me, it has tried.  However, I do have to ask the question.  Do you feel, Mr Mayor, it is acceptable for residents to suffer noise from the Tube at night time in excess of 50 decibels?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is not acceptable for anybody to be deprived their sleep for factors they are not responsible for and that can be ameliorated.  That is one of the reasons why TfL is using the best experts and the best technology to reduce noise.  The Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val Shawcross, is at this MQT to hear your concerns because she is keen to make sure that TfL is a good neighbour.


Keith Prince AM:  Are you aware, Mr Mayor, that it has tried those technologies?  The grinding does have some effect; it does work.  It has tried the Quiet Rail and the other technologies and has re‑measured.  They had no effect whatsoever, Mr Mayor.  Are you aware of that?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  No, I was not aware they had no effect.  The information I have been given is that TfL is going to re‑measure and see the difference it has made.  I know from other lines across London that the changes brought in have addressed some of the concerns raised by residents on noise.


Keith Prince AM:  In some respects you are correct, Mr Mayor.  Do you know that the measures it has taken to reduce vibrations, for instance, have been very effective?  That is where they have been effective.  The noise reduction on the surface trains, Mr Mayor, has not been effective.  Duncan Weir, Head of Operational Upgrades & Asset Development, London Underground - it flows off the tongue, that title - says there is no more in a technological way that they can do.  They have tried everything.  They will continue to search around the world for new technologies.  Everything they have tried has failed, Mr Mayor. 


My question to you is, do you not think it is now time to be the good neighbour that I know you and TfL want to be and to accept that there is no technological solution at this moment in time and for you, Mr Mayor, to pay for those worst‑affected residents to have triple glazing fitted?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is the information I have, Chair.  I am happy to go away and look into the information I have, and happy to arrange for the Deputy Mayor of Transport to meet with the Assembly Member to discuss what more can be done.  The information I have is that we are waiting to have the re‑measuring undertaken to see if any improvements have been made.  I am happy to discuss this with my Deputy Mayor for Transport and the Assembly Member to address the concerns he has.  As I said, the idea of not being able to sleep on a Friday night and Saturday night because of the Night Tube is not one I am happy with.


Keith Prince AM:  I can assure you that re‑measurements were done but it is only right and proper you should check that for yourself, Mr Mayor.  The question must be, therefore, if you are satisfied that those re‑measurements are not working and people are still having to live with noise in excess of 40 decibels, which is the World Health Organisation recommendation, will you give a commitment, Mr Mayor, that you will at least look at triple-glazing these people’s homes?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I will give you a simple example why triple-glazing is not the panacea; in summer months people have the windows open.  We have to address the issue at the root of the problem, which is having trains that are less noisy. 


What I am happy to do is for my Deputy Mayor to meet with you and discuss the particular solutions we have around this.  We should not pretend - I am not suggesting you are doing this in a malevolent way - that triple-glazing is a panacea.  Obviously, particularly in the summer months, it is not.


Keith Prince AM:  I accept that.  Mr Mayor, you are quite correct, if a solution could be found trackside that would be preferable.  However, it has been admitted that there is not one at the moment. 


If I can just get clarification, Mr Mayor, is your offer that I can meet with the Deputy Mayor and some of the residents?  Is that your offer, or are you offering to meet with them yourself?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Of course we can organise that.  Of course, it is only right and proper that your residents should be there as well.  I am happy to do that.


Keith Prince AM:  Your offer is that I meet with the Deputy Mayor and not with you?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  I am happy to meet with you as well but she is on top of this more than I am.  I get my information from officers and my Deputy Mayor but I am happy to meet with you.  It may take a little while.


Keith Prince AM:  With residents, Mr Mayor.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Yes, of course.  It may take longer but I am happy to do it, of course I am. 


Keith Prince AM:  I really appreciate it, Mr Mayor.  Thank you, it is very kind. 


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  Thank you, Assembly Member Prince, for bringing this up.  Can I intervene here and just say this is a London‑wide issue?  I absolutely support the moves that Assembly Member Prince is making on his behalf.  I would ask that there is an understanding that any moves to maybe offer triple glazing to one lot of residents would mean you would have to take a pan‑London approach to that.  I say no more but my constituents would not expect me to say anything less, and yours.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  For the avoidance of doubt, Chair, no such offer has been made.


Jennette Arnold OBE AM (Chair):  I am just saying this is a pan‑London critical issue about loss of sleep.  It is so important the Environment Committee has actually done some work on this.  I would - through you, Mr Mayor - ask your Deputy to actually see this as a pan‑London issue; dealing with the Assembly Member, of course, but so we look at this in a very strategic way.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  It is very important.