Council Withdraws Nuisance Notice After Noise Improvements

  • A number of changes implemented by both GWR and Network Rail that have significantly improved the noise environment
  • The Council will continue to closely monitor the position

READING BOROUGH COUNCIL has withdrawn statutory nuisance abatement notices issued against both First Greater Western (GWR) and Network Rail in 2017.  This follows a number of changes implemented by both GWR and Network Rail that have significantly improved the noise environment.

The Council will continue to closely monitor the position, whilst working with both GWR and Network Rail to ensure that these improvements are sustained in the future.

The Statutory Notice had been in place since November 2017 following years of complaints from residents relating to noise in the vicinity of the Depot and the sidings adjacent to Cardiff Road.

The Statutory Notices were appealed by Network Rail and GWR.  At a hearing in 2020 before the Chief Magistrate, who was allocated responsibility for hearing the appeals, all parties were encouraged to find a resolution to the issues that would avoid the need for a lengthy appeal hearing.  All parties have worked together to determine a resolution outside of the court process. A stay agreement saw legal action paused pending improvements being put in place by GWR and Network Rail and a subsequent assessment by Reading Borough Council.

Among the measures put in place by both GWR and Network Rail are:

  • Changes in respect of services operating from Reading, reducing the number of DMUs based at the depot and allowing for some timetabled services to start from Reading Station, rather than the depot.
  • Timetabling changes in respect of early and late scheduled trains to minimise the impact on residents.
  • The introduction of drone surveillance to minimise the number of possessions needed for track maintenance, reducing the number of displaced trains which impact on trains held at the depot.
  • Trials of new technologies with the aim of reducing the number of diesel units on the fleet alongside the broader industry commitment to decarbonise the railway across the network.
  • Recent repairs to superficial damage to the existing noise barrier.

Evidence collected by the Council indicates that the noise climate both day and night does not meet the threshold of statutory nuisance and is not prejudicial to health. As a result, the Council has withdrawn the Notices and agreed on the terms upon which GWR and Network Rail's appeals can be brought to an end.

Tony Page, Reading Borough Council’s Lead Councillor for Strategic Environment, Planning and Transport, said:

“The Council issued the Statutory Abatement Notices nearly four years ago with the intention of improving living conditions for local residents in Cardiff Road. I am pleased that the data collected so far indicates this has been achieved, notwithstanding some isolated incidents which have been acknowledged and explained.

“I would like to thank both GWR and Network Rail for the measures they have taken to make this happen.

“The Council’s Regulatory Services team advise that based on the evidence collected to date, the threshold of statutory nuisance is not being met, which is welcome news all around.

“I would like to reassure residents however that this is not the end of the matter. GWR, Network Rail and the Council are committed to continuing to work together to ensure the depot continues to operate in accordance with the principles of what has been agreed. All parties understand that in the event that a statutory nuisance in the future is suspected, the Council would  have a duty to further investigate and serve notices as appropriate.”

Among the future commitments that have been made by GWR  and Network Rail are:

  • GWR to continue with the hotline and investigate incidents of idling.
  • GWR and Network Rail have independently committed to continue to meet with residents and the Council 2 to 3 times a year or as required to address matters arising.
  • To continue to work towards the reduction of DMUs operating from Reading’s Train Care Depot.
  • Continue to service and maintain the acoustic barrier.
  • Continue to explore and advance technologies with the aim of reducing the number of DMU’s on the Network.