Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12040 - 12059)

  12040. CHAIRMAN: There are steps in the middle too, are there not, somewhere?

  12041. MS LIEVEN: There are one or two steps in the middle which will be removed by the works that we are carrying out, so it will be an entirely step-free route across. The Residents' Association now return to this Committee to ask that we rebuild the entire bridge in order to widen it, remove any sight-line difficulties and wholly reprovide it. I am afraid, my Lords, that that is the point that we stick at because really what is going on here is a request to do work that has nothing to do with Crossrail. Actually for the operation of the railway, we only have to do this relatively minor work at the north side. It is not our responsibility to rebuild this entire bridge. The bridge belongs to Network Rail and falls within the area of Westminster City Council. The fact that Crossrail need to do a little bit of work to the north side, in our view, plainly does not justify requiring us to rebuild the entire thing. It is also important to note that rebuilding this bridge would be a very major enterprise, as Mr Berryman will explain to you, because it goes all the way across the tracks, it would involve extensive reconstruction and extensive possessions, so it is our case that it is not our responsibility, it is not justified here and we are already doing everything that could possibly be required of us by providing the disabled access on the south side.

  12042. I move then to the second principal topic which is that of the batching plant and, if we can—

  12043. LADY BRIGHT: Excuse me, but on the batching plant, we are not going to bring any new evidence along, so it is not really a primary topic. Does that help you?

  12044. MS LIEVEN: I will just say a tiny bit, but I will keep it short, Lady Bright, so thank you for that. The batching plant, if we can have 027 up, the Committee will remember from yesterday that I explained that there is an existing batching plant in here and it has to be rebuilt for the Crossrail works in order to allow the tracks in. There is going to be an interim or temporary batching plant that will have to be road-served and then there will be a permanent replacement batching plant. The batching plant now is, and the permanent batching plant will be, rail-served which is critically important in order to minimise lorries on the route, and a process has been agreed with Westminster to attach conditions to the replacement batching plants. If I can just say in opening and come back to this in more detail in closing, depending on what Lady Bright's evidence is, the provision of the new batching plant will be a significant benefit to residents in terms of noise from the batching plant for a number of reasons. First of all, it will be a new construction, so it will be built to modern standards which will provide considerable mitigation in terms of noise and dust over the existing situation. Secondly, it will be subject to conditions, whereas the existing plant is largely not subject to conditions because it has been there for so long. Thirdly, and Mr Berryman is going to explain this in detail because I get a little lost at this point, there will be a benefit because the trains getting into the batching plant will not need to go so far east any longer, so the noise on some of the properties on Westbourne Park Villas further to the east will diminish from the trains because, it is fair to say, it is the train noise which is a major part of the current problems with the batching plant because the trains often have to come in in the middle of the night because that is the only time they can get the train paths.

  12045. CHAIRMAN: And they are of course diesel engines.

  12046. MS LIEVEN: And they are diesel engines and I think they are relatively noisy diesel engines at that. Overall, we believe there will be a considerable benefit from the scheme just in terms of the batching plant.

  12047. The third issue is the noise barrier. The residents have asked that a noise barrier be constructed along Westbourne Park Villas to protect them from noise from the railway. Now, it is correct to say, as anybody who came on the site visit will know, that there is a considerable amount of noise at this location already both from the operation of the railway, nothing to do with Crossrail, and from the Westway which is up here (indicating). Now, as far as Crossrail's contribution is concerned, it will be relatively slight. The trains will be new and will replace older and noisier trains, and they are also a considerable distance from the residential properties; they are right on the far side of the tracks, so the Crossrail trains come in here (indicating) on the north side of the tracks obviously as far away as possible from the residents.

  12048. It is true to say that, since the Environmental Statement was done, the noise environment from the railway has changed in this location, very recently in fact, because of the replacement of old engines on the high-speed trains to a newer engine which is considerably quieter. What that means is that, when the next stage of assessment is carried out for noise insulation for these properties, that may turn up more properties being eligible for noise insulation. That work has not been done yet in accordance with our policies and our processes, but it may be that, because the background noise has fallen, the contribution of Crossrail is proportionately higher and there may be greater eligibility. That is something that we will assess in accordance with our policies and, in particular, in accordance with IPD26.

  12049. However, what we are entirely clear about is that a noise barrier along Westbourne Park Villas would be wholly inappropriate. The Committee will remember, and I am just trying to find a photograph, that there is a large brick wall along Westbourne Park at the moment and, to construct a noise barrier which had any effect, it would be necessary to build above this wall a higher structure because the Committee will be aware that, in order for a noise barrier to work, you have got to be between the line of sight of the noise source and the place you are trying to protect, so we would be talking about a very large structure which would be extremely difficult to construct, extremely both expensive and also disruptive to construct and which would have a very major impact on the visual amenity of this location.[5] Obviously we have not gone into the detail of how you would plan it, but it is in a Conservation Area and it does not need much imagination to imagine what sticking a wall, even if it was a nice Perspex, wavy, foreign one on top, would do to this particular part of the Conservation Area.

  12050. CHAIRMAN: Is that Network Rail's wall?

  12051. MS LIEVEN: It is Network Rail's wall, my Lord, yes, and, I would assume, Westminster City Council's pavement.

  12052. CHAIRMAN: I am sure it is.

  12053. MS LIEVEN: One of the things that Mr Berryman will tell you about is that any wall that high will need very substantial foundations and they would either have to go into the pavement or they would have to go on to the railway side, in which case they will have a serious impact on the railway, so we are not talking about something simple here. I will leave it there and hear what Lady Bright says, but Mr Berryman is ready to give detailed evidence on the wall. My Lords, I hope I have covered what, I think, are the main issues, but there may be others that we need to deal with in evidence.

  12054. LORD BROOKE OF ALVERTHORPE: If I could just ask a question on the last point, did you say that, when you come to make an assessment in the light of the changes in the sound coming from the new locomotives and Crossrail coming in, it is possible that you might still have to do it?

  12055. MS LIEVEN: Might still have to do the wall?


  12057. MS LIEVEN: No, my Lord. The assessment would be for noise insulation in the houses, so double-glazing effectively is what is being assessed. No, there is no possibility of us doing the wall. You might, in another location with a different set of problems, put in a noise barrier. I think at Shenfield we are assuming that some noise barriers will go in because there it is a simple, straightforward operation and you can mitigate the noise at source in that way, but here that is just not an appropriate solution, in our view.

  12058. LORD SNAPE: I have one other question before you sit down, Ms Lieven. The bus garage—is that going to be moved when Crossrail comes into operation?

  12059. MS LIEVEN: My Lords, I am sorry, I have misled the Committee. Can we go back to 027? The bus garage is here and there is hard standing parking underneath here where we went down on the site visit. The bus garage stays and the bus park moves during the duration of the works. We have reached agreement with the bus operating company as to the process of the move.

5   Crossrail Ref: P79; Brick wall between road and tracks showing diagonal cracks (WESTCC-40-_04-023) Back

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