Screeching Matangi trains 'a curse'

Fed up: Angry residents along the Johnsonville line. From, Mike Hearps, Robert Heinrich, Doris Heinrich, Wilma Sherwin Robyn Radomski and Margaret Heaps.
Fed up: Angry residents along the Johnsonville line. From, Mike Hearps, Robert Heinrich, Doris Heinrich, Wilma Sherwin Robyn Radomski and Margaret Heaps.

Residents along the Johnsonville train line are enraged that a high- pitched screeching sound made by the Matangi trains is still invading their homes, eight months after they were introduced.

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

Residents also complain the horn is used too often and that the trains make a loud thumping noise.

The tracks are owned by KiwiRail and the trains by Wellington Regional Council. The council said this week it hoped to have the problems sorted by next month.

In July, The Wellingtonian reported that the regional council and KiwiRail understood the cause of the problem, but needed time to find solutions.

Regional council rail projects manager Angus Gabara said in July trials to find a solution should be finished by October.

However, residents along the train line said this week the problems had not been solved.

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

Margaret Hearps, who has lived next to the line in Khandallah for 68 years, said the biggest frustration was that when the Matangi trains were trialled there was no noise.

‘‘Even when they began driver training, there was no noise,’’ she said.

‘‘Now we have nothing but noise. No-one will want a house near the railway line these days.’’

Kathrynne Bradshaw of Khandallah said some people felt that if people chose to live close to the track, they should expect noise.

‘‘We were aware of the trains when we bought here, but we have lived here for more than nine years and never had a problem with them before, she said.’’

Ross Barrett of Khandallah said he heard the thumping noise and the screeching at his house.

"It's disruptive. It's this continuous thump, thump, thump.

"We had people in our house the other day and the lady grabbed hold of my arm when the train went past because she thought it was an earthquake."

‘‘They are not noises you’d ever get used to.’’

He has rung KiwiRail and the regional council seven times in the past three months.

"No-one talks to each other. You speak to someone in the council and they don't know what KiwiRail has done."

‘‘The man who came to talk to us about the tracks didn’t even know that work had been done on the tracks. Where’s the communication?’’

Regional council rail projects manager Angus Gabara said friction modifiers - lubricants that are put on the track - had been trialled and showed very good results.

"The results are very promising, with the noise being virtually eliminated," he said.

"We're now building on this success by installing mechanical dispensers."

KiwiRail customer relations manager Holly Reardon said in her October 30 update to residents that wheel dampers would also be fixed to the trains and the noise monitored.

‘‘We are in discussion with the train provider, plus providers of wheel dampers, to identify an appropriate damper for the Matangi wheel,’’ she said.

"We are expecting to be able to trial a couple of trains with wheel dampers by the end of November," she said.

Mr Gabara said it was important that any solution did not cause other problems.

‘‘It’s a complex issue. We needed to find out the exact cause, investigate the best solutions, and then trial them. There is no quick fix,’’ he said.

‘‘We need to be sure that

He said if the trials were successful, residents could expect the problems to be solved by December.

Residents vent their anger

- "It turns out to be a noise that's completely intolerable. We cannot be left to carry on with this racket. We paid for them." Ross Barrett

- "It's affecting our health. We were looking forward to the new trains, but they have become a curse." - Doris Heinrich

-"If a train passes while you're outside, you have to stop your conversation and wait till it has moved off." Margaret Hearps

- "It goes right through the house to the back of the garden. You can't get away from it." Wilma Sherwin

- "We've been in our house 34 years and this was the first time people said, 'What's that noise?"' Robyn Radomski

"I'm dreading our first summer with the trains. It was bad enough in winter with all the doors closed. It's invasive." Kathrynne Bradshaw


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The Wellingtonian