Tube Noise

MQT on 2017-08-10
Session date: 
August 10, 2017
Question By: 
Leonie Cooper
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor


Would the Mayor consider asking TfL to look into reducing the running speeds of the night tube?


Answer for Tube Noise

Answer for Tube Noise

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  An appropriate question bearing in mind the comments of the Chair in answer to a previous question.  Over 7.6 million journeys have been made on the Night Tubes since I first launched the service last August.  I remain committed to making sure that the Night Tube works for local communities as well as customers, and that noise from our services is reduced to the lowest level possible.  TfL has a dedicated team of specialists to investigate and respond to every noise complaint.  This has improved its ability to identify hotspots and target interventions. 


TfL is dealing with the source of the noise, such as the trains and the tracks they run on, directly.  There is no single solution to resolving track noise but the installation of over 10,000 shock absorbent track fixings, for example, has had a positive impact in a number of noise hotspots.  TfL and the Deputy Mayor for Transport acknowledge that issues remain which is why TfL continues to look for other solutions.  TfL is also 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 rails are kept smooth and as quiet as possible across the network. 


Since you raised reducing train speeds as a possible solution with my Deputy Mayor for Transport, Val [Valerie Shawcross CBE] has discussed it with the Managing Director of London Underground, Mark Wild.  He is now investigating if it will be possible to reduce train speeds on any of the Night Tube lines as they do not all operate on the same technology.  I have asked TfL to keep you informed of any progress.  I know you and other Assembly colleagues have been in contact with TfL about Night Tube noise and the scrutiny has provided valuable feedback for TfL. 


I am assured there is a robust procedure in place so TfL can respond quickly and sympathetically to all reports of noise disturbances.  TfL will continue to do all it can to be a good neighbour while delivering the world‑class levels of service day and night that are needed to enable the growth of our city.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  Obviously, we too are very glad to see the introduction of the Night Tube and the focus on keeping London open, vibrant and growing.  However, there are individuals in these hotspot areas who have been having these problems.  A number of them approached me so, as the Chair of the Environment Committee and with the support of all colleagues, I invited them in to talk to us.  Some of the testimony we heard this March was quite difficult to listen to, some people were really having trouble generally but also because of the Night Tube.  It is quite clear that it is clustered.  If you look at the number of complaints about the Northern line it is 100 and the Victoria line is 85; yet the Jubilee line, which is a much newer line, it is only 15 on their records.  Some people are writing to me almost every day so that is why I thought I would raise this. 


You have heard already from Assembly Member Prince and Assembly Member Arnold, and I know that a number of Assembly Member Dismore’s constituents are impacted both by the Victoria and the Northern lines, two of the worst lines.  I thought it was worth while trying to find out about slowing down and to discuss that with Deputy Mayor Shawcross to see if that was a possibility.  I am aware that on the river, to deal with the houseboat enclaves, TfL and the Port of London Authority have come up with passage plans with Thames Clippers.  The clippers slow down near the houseboats.  Even if you cannot slow down whole lines, slowing down perhaps in some of the hotspot areas to complement all the other work that is going on - grinding, shock absorbers, track fastenings and lots of technology I had never previously heard of - would that be an option Mark Wild and his team could look at as well?


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  Absolutely.  As a consequence of your representations to the Deputy Mayor for Transport, and her representations to the Managing Director, these are being explored.  Nothing has been ruled out in relation to trying to reduce the noise.  We are keen to reduce the noise at source for obvious reasons.  I have seen the figures for where the complaints are coming from, which lines and which particular stations that are near there.  I have read some of the testimonies of six residents who gave evidence to your Committee.  I do not want a situation where people cannot sleep because of the Night Tube.  That is why we are trying to address these issues as quickly as we possibly can.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Thank you.  It is about targeting the areas where we know there is a change in direction of the line and so you get that acceleration or deceleration or trying to go around the bend, but also some areas where it is quite clear that the lines are nearer to the surface.  Focusing on those hotspots would be very welcome.


Sadiq Khan (Mayor of London):  That is right.  That is why we can do better than a blanket response to the entire line.  It is about bespoke responses to particular parts of the line that can hopefully ameliorate some of the concerns you are alluding to.


Leonie Cooper AM:  Thank you very much, Mr Mayor.  I will continue to work with Deputy Mayor Shawcross on that.  Thank you.