Screeching trains anger residents

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 08:50 26/07/2012
Doris Heinrich
AMY JACKMAN

Fed up: Doris Heinrich is sick of the screeching sound the Matangi trains make on the Johnsonville line.

Matangi Screech

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Residents living along the Johnsonville train line are angry the Matangi trains still screech along the tracks, four months after they were introduced.

As the trains approach and depart stations, the wheels make a high-pitched metal-on-metal squeal.

The tracks are owned by Greater Wellington Regional Council and the Matangi trains by Kiwi Rail.

Khandallah resident Doris Heinrich said she has lived next to the train line for four years and was looking forward to the new trains arriving in April.

"The old trains, we didn't even notice them, and we were looking forward to the new trains," she said.

"Then suddenly all hell broke loose. I thought, 'My gosh. What's going on'?

"You can't even turn the TV on high enough to exclude the sound, because it's such a high-pitched screech it overrides any other noise you have in the house.

"It is an ugly noise, an unbearable noise."

During rush hour, eight trains can pass along the Johnsonville line in an hour and the screeching can last for more than 30 seconds.

Mrs Heinrich said after the trains were rolled out, she waited a week before calling the Kiwi Rail complaints line.

She said she was told there were a couple of complaints and it was being investigated.

In the four months since her first complaint, Mrs Heinrich said she has received hardly any new information from Kiwi Rail or the regional council.

"We are just fed-up with the bland fob-offs we are getting from Kiwi Rail and the regional council," she said.

"It has been platitudes. Things like, if you would like more information about this problem, go to this journal article.

"Well, that's not going to solve our problem. It is an article they should be reading, not me.

"My last email was July 4 and I haven't had any reply."

Angus Gabara, the regional council rail projects manager, said the council and Kiwi Rail were working to identify and fix the problem.

"We're concerned about the impact on residents who live close to the parts of the line where the screeching noise is excessive," he said.

"We are ensuring that only two- car trains are used whenever possible to lessen the impact, and we're doing all we can to find an effective solution."

Mrs Heinrich said she wanted to know how many other people were affected by the noise.

"What I feel is that for every one complaint there are 50 other people wanting to complain," she said.

"I'd like to know how many people there are and if we can get together and can do something about it. If there are lots of people, I think we have a strong case for noise pollution beyond tolerance, which means they have to stop until they solve the problem or bring in other trains that don't have this problem. It is that serious that people should not have to put up with this."

 

Working to dampen the noise

It could take more than three months for Greater Wellington Regional Council and Kiwi Rail to fix the screeching made by the Matangi trains on the Johnsonville line.

Residents have complained since April about the metal-on- metal screeching sound the trains make.

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Regional council rail projects manager Angus Gabara said the cause of the noise had only recently been identified.

"An acoustics report concluded that . . . as the train manoeuvres through a tight corner, the wheels are interacting with the top of the track in a way which is creating the squealing noise," he said.

The screeching was not detected during the testing of the Matangi trains, he said.

"Our initial noise monitoring indicated that the noise levels emitted by the Matangi were not dissimilar to that of the English Electrics.

"However, since the introduction of the Matangi on regular services, the noise has become more apparent."

Mr Gabara said it could take three months to work out how to solve the problem.

"We're currently identifying all possible solutions.

"This could well require some form of trials and could take up to another 12 weeks, finishing about the end of October 2012.

"When we've selected the best solution, we'll have an idea of how long it will take to implement," he said.

Khandallah resident Doris Heinrich said this was unacceptable.

"They have to make this a total priority and pull out all the stops.

"We can't live with it for 12 more weeks."

Mr Gabara said they needed to take time to test solutions so they did not cause more problems.

"We don't want a solution for this issue that risks creating other problems.

"For example, lubricating the track on a line such as Johnsonville, with a steep gradient and tight curves, could lead to slippage and braking issues."

 

Do you live on the Johnsonville train line? What do you think of the noise made by the new Matangi trains?

Get in touch: email editor@thewellingtonian.co.nz.

- The Wellingtonian

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