It’s official – train depot noise is a statutory nuisance

Reading Borough Council has told local residents and Bell Tower it is satisfied that statutory nuisance is taking place at the Cardiff Road Train Care Depot, after a campaign lasting more than three years.

Discussions are underway between the council, Network Rail and Great Western to determine whether the rail companies have evidence to support their defence of Statutory Authority or operation by the best practicable means. The council also says it plans to start monitoring air pollution in Cardiff Road and has obtained permission from the Deaf Centre to install the necessary equipment on their premises.

Bell Tower chairman Jonathan Dart has written to Reading East MP Rob Wilson urging him to bring any pressure he can to bear on Network Rail and Great Western both in parliament and in central government. The letter also pointed out that the deferral of electrification of the Didcot-Oxford line and branches would inevitably mean more diesel units than originally planned being based at Reading depot after the summer 2019 date for the completion of electrification. This means that the railway companies can no longer say the problem of noise and pollution will solve itself through electrification and makes it more imperative for a solution to be found.

In light of what happened with the Green Park station issue, Bell Tower urged Mr Wilson to oppose any plans to add diesel services on any of the lines affected by the deferral of electrification because this would curtail the reduction in the number of diesel units based at Reading. Given the implications for the national rail network of the continued use of diesel traction in the Thames Valley for the foreseeable future, Bell Tower also asked whether there were any plans by the government to introduce new, less noisy and polluting diesel trains to replace the Reading-based turbo trains, while stressing that full electrification would be the option preferred by local residents.

Bell Tower has also written to Great Western to ask what the deferral will mean for the traction mix at the depot in 2019. After the previous deferral involving the Reading-Basingstoke line, they said 51 diesel units would remain at Reading (54 if there were extra trains to serve Green Park station) as opposed to the 45 originally envisaged. At the time of writing Bell Tower had not received an answer from Mr Wilson or Great Western.

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