Select Committee on the Crossrail Bill Minutes of Evidence

Examination of Witnesses (Questions 12540 - 12559)

  12540. Anyway, if we could move on, I have some more exhibits here. Could you go to exhibit 4 first please in the folder.[26] One of the things with Crossrail is they have done no internal surveys whatsoever, so far as I know, and at the front of my building, which I think you will probably remember when you looked at it, at the basement at the very bottom there, that unfortunately does not come out very well, that is a window, but that is an air vent (indicating). This air vent goes down and under the building and up into a large light well. Next exhibit, JP5, this is where the underground connection from that front vent comes up inside the light well.[27] So you have got a shaft joining these two grills from the front to the back of the property which go underneath the building. I do not think this has been taken into consideration at all.

  12541. If we move on to exhibit JP6 you will see the actual light well.[28] This light well is about 70 feet high and you will see that little glistening object there, that is in fact the manhole cover at the bottom of it, which I am indicating on the screen there, these special site conditions being at the crossroads with the underground running tunnels.

  12542. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Is this supposed to taken with you lying on your back looking upwards?

  12543. MR PAYNE: I am looking down hanging over the light well.

  12544. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: I just wondered how the manhole cover came to be at the bottom.

  12545. MR PAYNE: That is right, again the light and air well, it carries all the service pipes and everything, and Crossrail are saying there are no special features.

  12546. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: Thank you.

  12547. MR PAYNE: If you ever put your ear against a chimney, especially a lined one with a stainless steel liner, you can hear a pin drop.

  12548. LORD JAMES OF BLACKHEATH: I did not mean to distract you. I just wanted to get it clear.

  12549. MR PAYNE: So these large ducts going horizontally at the front at basement level, and also I am talking about special features of the block and the apartment's floor is concrete, and possibly, judging from my architect's journal, there are probably stone slabs underneath there as well so these are all special features that I consider would amplify these noises. Do you have any comment on that, Mr Winbourne?

   (Mr Winbourne) Yes, I think it is axiomatic that if you have any kind of shaft or pipe or anything of that sort it will carry noise. The situation of putting a wine glass to the wall comes to mind. It is, I suppose, third-form physics which is about when I stopped doing physics actually because I did not like it, but I do remember it! The point I would make is that Mr Payne's building was designed the way it was designed, it was not designed for or against Crossrail. Crossrail comes along nearly 200 years later and expects to not bother and I do not think you can do it that way. I do not accept either—can I just interpose a point, I know I am here as a witness with your leave sir—Mr Potel the witness that was spoken about before, apparently (we did not know this) has particular knowledge of construction and acoustics which we only found out about today, and that is a simple fact that we simply did not know, and that is one of the reasons why it is not simply what you have at the back of the bundle here but there is more to it that he could give evidence on and it would be of considerable importance to these Petitioners and others.

  12550. Thank you. If I continue now with further comparisons, as I said before, with the Central Line noise that I actually experienced, this is an operating underground railway about a quarter of the size of Crossrail, as I said. The description of recent events experienced with the Central Line are casting further doubts on Crossrail noise predictions in the running of the railway. Now could you move to exhibit 7 please.[29] These are pictures of recent engineering works carried out on the Central Line. You can see here this is actually the station platform at Lancaster Gate and these are in fact, I believe they are timber sleepers with the running railway on it so they obviously give a good solid bed to the railway. In January 2007 engineering works were carried out. They suspended it several weekends in a row and in the middle of the night you could hear these pneumatic hammers going like they were next to your bed. They were transmitting the sound 80 or 90 metres away. You could hear it so clearly. I was trying to think what was going on so I went down on the platform (when the railway was open again of course) and this is now exhibit JP8, and you can see what was going on, they were replacing the wooden sleepers with these concrete ones, so I am saying basically that they are taking way the heavy timber sleeper track supports and by inference replacing it by those concrete sleeper track supports. There was a marked increase in noise reported by many residents. My neighbour will also testify to that. We believe that the concrete transmitted the vibrations from the train axels more markedly than before. Surely the timber must have deadened the vibrations. This is the only conclusion I could get. If they were refurbishing the track surely this was a good opportunity to design it with a better track support to help mitigate the noise; but they did not.

  12551. Points of concern to note about this, there has apparently been no consultation with residents about this extra noise nuisance or social cost; it is just imposed. Furthermore, when I asked Graham King of Westminster City Council he also had no information to hand. Is there any regulatory body looking into this? These are works that go on on the underground railway with apparently no consultation with residents. They just do that. This could well reflect on what is going to happen on what is Crossrail when they build it to their existing track specification, they cannot go backwards.

  12552. During the recent Mayoral Elections, the campaigners had policies that would mean greater frequency of trains and later operating of trains. Again, will there be any consultation with residents so affected by these anti-social time zones? At the time of the 1994 Crossrail Private Member's Bill, Westminster City Council also undertook a report on the Central Line. A noise reading was taken in my flat. A copy of this report has never been forthcoming despite me asking. Generally a common reply from Crossrail to a pertinent question is "There are remaining technical issues that can only be worked out later at the detailed design stage." We are told about the much-heralded Crossrail document "Construction and Community Relations Strategy Framework". I indeed replied recently to the draft with a couple of fundamental points. These are basically to safeguard people after Royal Assent, which looks like all we have got to rely on, firstly, that there should be an independent arbiter on any disputes/claims not established by CTRL as stated. Secondly, as intended after Royal Assent the monthly report which is in this document, including detailed design, would only be given to local authorities on request. I suggested reporting to local authorities should be automatic. From this indication it would imply that residents' associations and Petitioners like myself will not be consulted on undecided technical decisions affecting their properties but local authorities might be. Is it therefore intended that residents' associations and Petitioners like myself will be shut out of this process? Mr Winbourne, what dangers can you see in this?

   (Mr Winbourne) A great deal I would have thought. You have concentrated on the after use of the railway, if I can call it that, because we have comparisons with the Central Line, which is in itself bad enough. What you have not mentioned particularly is the fact that you are looking at something like a three- or four-year construction period with a huge construction underground which is not being addressed as far as I can see and you are adjacent to what amounts to a huge ghost station. That is why the tracks divide. I made the point earlier, my Lord, about the tracks dividing towards the so-called shaft. Whatever they are saying now about people walking alongside, I think it is probably a problematic issue because an EIP (emergency intervention point) which is what this constitutes, an island platform with low lighting permanently on, as on—and there is only one in London—the Jubilee Line with the tracks on either side so that a train can be stopped there, in this case we are talking about up to a 12-coach train, full size, for people to get out and evacuate. It is not simply for firemen or police or whatever to get in. Imagine if at 7/7 for example and you had a bomb where you wanted to stop a train, and you could not get into the station; this is what it is about. If stations are more than one kilometre apart, it is mandatory that there be an emergency intervention point.

  12553. CHAIRMAN: Mr Payne, you are meant to be speaking to your Petition. There is nothing about emergency intervention shafts or 7/7 or anything of the sort in there. You must stick to your Petition. We cannot hear anything that goes outside your Petition.

  12554. MR PAYNE: My Petition actually does have something on the air vent. There was originally an air vent, an EIP, at Victoria Gate. It is one of the items in my Petition.

The Committee suspended from 4.27 pm to 4.39 pm for a Division in the House

  12555. CHAIRMAN: May I ask what the point you are making at the moment has got to do with the introduction of floating slab track under your house?

  12556. MR PAYNE: Yes, it is all about noise predictions and measurements. The 15-metre rule, if my property did satisfy—

  12557. CHAIRMAN: What has it got to do with the ventilation shaft in Hyde Park?

  12558. MR PAYNE: I will be coming to that in a minute.

  12559. CHAIRMAN: I hope that it will be a very few minutes.

26   Committee Ref: A67, View of an air vent at Stanhope Terrace (SCN-20080507-024) Back

27   Committee Ref: A67, View of an air vent inside a light well at Stanhope Terrace (SCN-20080507-025) Back

28   Committee Ref: A67, View of a light well at Stanhope Terrace (SCN-20080507-026) Back

29   Committee Ref: A67, View of engineering works carried out on the Central Line (SCN-20080507-027 to -028) Back

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