Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12440 - 12459)

  12440. So far as the noise barrier is concerned, there are a number of points which, in my submission, make it plain that there is no sense in having a noise barrier here. First of all, the noise impact itself: this is an existing noisy environment, by anybody's standards, both from the Westway and from existing railway noise. I would, with respect, echo what Lord Snape said: this is an area where people have moved to in the good, full knowledge that there is a lot of noise from these sources. What we are doing is replacing relatively noisy diesel trains with relatively quiet Crossrail trains. They are on the far side of the track from the housing and, in my submission, one can understand residents' concern about railway noise in a general sense, because there is a lot of it, but in terms of this being a terribly sensitive location to noise from Crossrail, in my submission, it plainly is not, because one has to see it in respect of the existing noise environment.

  12441. Just specifically on the gardens, which I think both Sir Keith and Lady Bright emphasised as being one of the very precious elements of at least the houses which are like theirs in this area, you have heard Mr Thornely-Taylor's evidence: no material impact on the gardens from Crossrail—full-stop, end of story. The gardens are very significantly shielded by the houses themselves, but, also, because of their level they get the benefit of the noise barrier effect of the existing wall. So, really, there is no material impact on the gardens.

  12442. Then we come to: does it make sense to build a barrier in any event? The simple answer is no. Extremely difficult to construct, as Mr Berryman explained, and extremely disturbing to construct because it is going to have a very material impact on the Conservation Area, however you design it. If you put it on the railway side it is going to have a material impact on the railway, and there are real people who are going to find it difficult to get into Paddington while possessions are taken, and so on. That is an impact which is simply not justified here. Also, it is very expensive. It comes back to the point: "Well, Crossrail is £17 billion so what is the odd £5 million or £4 million between friends?" In my submission, you are spending £5 million—or something in that region—for very little benefit. Lady Bright queries Mr Berryman's costs. Mr Berryman, just to remind the Committee on the penultimate day, is an extraordinarily experienced engineer, who has been building this kind of project for many, many years and, in my submission, the Committee can place great reliance on the costs that he puts forward. Maybe it will not be £5 million; maybe it will be a bit less, maybe it will be a bit more, but that it will be in that ballpark is something that we have produced expert evidence on, to be frank, and the Committee can place reliance on that. So if we have a noise barrier that is not justified in itself, that would be very damaging in all sorts of ways and it would be extremely expensive, so, in my submission, it is simply not justified here. I hope that covers all the points. As I say, we will come back briefly tomorrow on construction railway noise because I would just like to make sure that we have got that entirely right for the Chairman.

  12443. CHAIRMAN: Lady Bright, it is your opportunity, you said earlier that you could not think of any undertakings that you were going to ask us to suggest but maybe things have clarified themselves.

  12444. LADY BRIGHT: One I think. I am very glad and thank you for informing us that Network Rail and other, what shall I call them, rail undertakers will be bound by the Crossrail Construction Code and the full package of measures that have taken three years to work out with the local authorities under the term "environmental impact requirements". That is the package and you were very clear about that, it will cover the route and everything that is done on the route by whomsoever, so that is useful. And thank you for the information about the freight railway. It is not going to give us any comfort but at least we know where we are. The local authorities have in the case of this Bill got, I think it is right to say, far more powers than they did have at the end of the Jubilee Line for example because there are so many uncertainties and they are qualifying authorities for more things. This seems to me to make sense but it does not leave a role for people who are not local authorities, people who are just residents like us, where the determination of detailed design is a long way off and in the case of our noise protection depends on studies which have not yet been done and so on. Is there some sort of undertaking that we could ask for that would keep us in the frame as residents? We are represented on the liaison committee but I just wonder if we could think of something that would give us a little bit more clout on that one. Unfortunately, I do not write laws like yourselves so I do not know, but it is a point, local authorities are representing us to some extent but our interests as residents are a separate matter, and we would have expected to have had much more detail on how this railway was going to be built and what the consequences were going to be for us by the time the Bill had gone though both Houses of Parliament. Certainly for the Jubilee Line for example that was the case. So that undertaking would be very helpful.

The Petition of John Payne

  12445. I wonder how we could phrase something on the noise barrier situation. I would point out, going back to the noise barrier, when it was built, as Mr Thornely-Taylor indicated, it was built to be a noise barrier against the noise from the railway. It was a built with a slight curve to deflect noise and it was a very solid structure. I do not want to go into the engineering questions of moving it or changing it or doing anything else, but I do want you, if you would not mind, to address the fact that we are now building a new railway and we ought to upgrade the structure or find a way of meeting that aim for the 21st Century. This barrier was designed to protect against railway noise from a smaller, less used railway. I do not know if there is anything you can think of on that score but what we are interested in is that nothing is ruled out at this stage until we have got the detailed assessment. We are very much comforted to hear that the noise assessment will be in the public domain and therefore if there are arguments about "which noise is yours" between the co-sponsors, who are between them making all the noise, that we can all be involved in looking at that. There may be remedies, for example, for one sort of noise which would impact on the way Crossrail thinks of remediating the noise they make on us. So long as Crossrail have to do just Crossrail-related things and the measurements that are dedicated just to Crossrail, we are all a bit stuck, but knowing there is this study that will be publicly available is of great comfort and I do not need a further undertaking on the study itself.

  12446. On the point that people who live in houses alongside busy railways know that they are going to be disturbed by trains, yes certainly, but the noise environment has changed markedly for the worse really since rail privatisation, I suppose, to be honest, and then the changes following on since, so what we are looking at now is we have just got some new engines that have removed one of the great banes of our lives, those Paxman Valenta, is the lull before the storm. It is now slightly better than it was. The Westway has got about as bad as it can be. It is going to be resurfaced but when and what the impacts will be, all these things are things that concern us and we did not want them left out of the consideration of Crossrail even if Crossrail itself was not responsible. I think that is really quite helpful but if you could possibly find some way to keep us involved in the consultative process for these local, very specific concerns, that would be is he helpful. I do not think there is any more than that, thank you.

  12447. MS LIEVEN: My Lord, there is just one point that I simply must clarify because I said precisely the right thing about Network Rail and Lady Bright repeated it in a different form which is not correct, and it is one issue that we cannot allow there to be any misunderstanding about. Where Network Rail carry out works under powers in the Bill then they will be bound by the EMRs. That is the correct statement of the position and that needs to be correct and clear on the transcript. Thank you, my Lords.

  12448. CHAIRMAN: Which may not be exactly the same as what you thought.

  12449. LADY BRIGHT: It is not exactly the same as what I thought and I as a mere resident am not able to envisage all the railway manoeuvres that may be required and check them against the powers in the Bill at that stage, so that is where you could give us some comfort perhaps.

  12450. CHAIRMAN: So far as we are concerned however, we can only deal with the Crossrail scheme, so there is nothing much further we can do about what the rest of Network Rail carries out.

  12451. LADY BRIGHT: During this period and in general pursuit. I can see an argument happening here about what Network Rail is doing in pursuit of the Crossrail project and arguing about whether they are doing it for that reason or something else.

  12452. CHAIRMAN: I do not think so.

  12453. LADY BRIGHT: You do not think so?

  12454. CHAIRMAN: No. We are very grateful to you particularly since you have finished at a most convenient time because we have got very nearly your neighbour, Mr Payne, who is due to come on now and is here and it will allow for plenty of time tome to deal with his Petition. Thank you very much to you and your witnesses for being here and we will think about the things you have said.

The following Petition against the Bill was read:

Petition of Mr John Payne

The Petitioner appeared in person

  12455. CHAIRMAN: Mr Mould?

The Petition of John Payne

  12456. MR MOULD: My Lord, Mr Payne is the owner of a residential property at 23 Stanhope Terrace, Hyde Park Gardens, London W2, and we have produced on the screen a plan, and you will see Mr Payne's property has been outlined in red.[17] It forms part of a larger residential block at numbers 22 to 33 Hyde Park Gardens. Members of the Committee who attended the site visit the other day will recall that we visited Mr Payne's block and spent a little time viewing the location. The Crossrail running tunnels are passing in a broadly north-westerly/south-easterly alignment beneath Mr Payne's property, as shown with the dotted lines on the plans in front of you. The depth of the tunnel at this location is about 23.7 metres from the basement of Mr Payne's property to the tunnel crown and about 29 metres from the basement to track level.

  12457. If we have up 04-002 please.[18] We have shown that on a cross-section so you can see here is the red line showing the assumed basement of Mr Payne's property and the distance to the tunnel crown at a corresponding distance to the track level in relation to the westbound running tunnel and a broadly corresponding distance in relation to the eastbound tunnel. Of course, tunnels here are passing eastwards from Paddington Station on an arc to go down beneath Hyde Park and then to follow broadly the east/west alignment of the Central Line as it passes beneath Park Lane and into the West End.

  12458. As regards groundborne noise, the predicted levels for the operational railway for properties in this vicinity are all below 30dBA LAmax,S and the highest prediction is at 29dBA LAmax,S. Given the depth of the railway beneath the basement and the level of prediction, this part of the railway is not one which we consider to merit the provision of floating slab track and therefore a standard resilient track form is proposed here, in accordance with the design arrangements agreed with Camden and other local authorities and set out in operation paper B10. As regards vibration both for the passage of the construction of the railway and the operational railway, the predictions for Mr Payne's property are well below the threshold for disturbance of residential occupiers set by the relevant British Standard and we anticipate that, as regards vibration, the only likely source of disturbance is for a very few days when the tunnel boring machines are passing directly beneath the Petitioner's property.

  12459. I ought just to touch on the fact that this property and others in the block of which it forms part are a group of Grade II listed buildings dating from the mid-Victorian years and, as your Lordships will recall, a terrace of eight stucco-ed houses. We have carried out a ground movement assessment report and that is to be found at page 003 and following.[19] I think all I need to say at this stage, if you can just scroll down to the bottom of the page, your Lordships will see from the summary and conclusion of the report that the prediction is of negligible damage in terms of ground movement. The soil beneath the premises is London Clay. That is the medium through which the tunnel will be constructed and in terms of tensile strain it is well within the lowest damage category, that is to say negligible, and that is the prediction set out in the report. We provided the full phase 3, stage 1 report in relation to this and the surrounding properties for you in your packs for ease of reference.

17   Crossrail Ref: P79, 23 Stanhope Terrace-Location Plan (WESTCC-7_04-001) Back

18   Crossrail Ref: P79, 23 Stanhope Terrace-Section AA (WESTCC-7_04-001) Back

19   Crossrail Ref: P79, 25-28 Hyde Park Gardens (including 22 Stanhope Terrace) Listed Building Assessments, Phase 3 Iteration 1 Reports, Mott MacDonald (WESTCC-7_04-003) Back

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