Johnsonville trains keep on squealing

AMY JACKMAN
Last updated 10:37 14/02/2013

Matangi Screech

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Wellington Regional Council is unable to say when the screeching noise made by the Matangi trains on the Johnsonville line will stop.

At various points along the line, the train wheels make a high-pitched squeal.

The regional council's rail projects manager, Angus Gabara, said it was caused by the way the wheels interacted with the top of the inside rail.

Johnsonville, Khandallah and Ngaio residents have been complaining to KiwiRail and the regional council about the noise since the Matangi trains were introduced 10 months ago.

In November, the regional council told The Wellingtonian that if trials went well, it hoped to have the problem sorted by the end of December.

This week Mr Gabara refused to put a date on when the noise would be eliminated, but said residents would be updated within the next two months.

Khandallah resident Doris Heinrich said the noise was as bad as ever.

"It's just horrible," she said. "There seems to have been no development in reducing the noise at all.

"It's not acceptable. People shouldn't have to put up with this kind of noise invasion for this long."

Regional councillor Daran Ponter said it could take six months to fine-tune the solutions.

Two solutions have been identified, but Mr Gabara said the cost of fixing the noise problem would not be known until the $60,000 trials were completed.

The first solution was to place friction modification dispensers along parts of the track. They dispense a special lubricant on the inside rail.

The dispensers were installed over the Christmas period.

"It will take a little time for the friction modification material to be spread evenly along the line and thus create the desired effect," Mr Gabara said.

"Sound monitoring has identified varying levels of effectiveness under different weather conditions, which requires further fine tuning of application rates."

The second solution is to fix wheel dampers to the train wheels.

"Wheel dampers were sourced over Christmas and a number of trial trains are being prepared for fitting and testing," Mr Gabara said.

He said the council was aware of the effect the noise was having on residents.

"We acknowledge and understand the frustration this is causing some residents," he said.

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"The noise measurement site indicates that the friction modification dispensers are effective at reducing the noise.

"The challenge is to recreate the effect consistently along the length of the line at all times, in all conditions."

He said all residents who had complained were on a database and updated every few months.

A public meeting is planned for next month. Mr Ponter said the meeting was important because the community needed to be more involved in the process.

"A lot of work has gone in to finding a solution and now it is all about fine tuning," he said.

To hear the noise the trains make visit our website: thewellingtonian.co.nz.

- The Wellingtonian

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