FOI request detail

London Underground Noise Complaints

Request ID: FOI-3252-1819
Date published: 02 April 2019

You asked

I'd like a year's worth of residents complaints about tube noise and then separately six months (September 2018 to end of February 2019) of complaints from passengers about the noise of the tube.

We answered

Our Ref:         FOI-3252-1819

Thank you for your further e-mail regarding your request for information about noise complaints on the Northern Line.

Your request has been considered in accordance with the requirements of the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act and TfL’s information access policy. I can confirm we do hold the information you require.

Unfortunately, to provide the information you have requested would still exceed the ‘appropriate limit’ of £450 set by the Freedom of Information (Appropriate Limit and Fees) Regulations 2004.

Under section 12 of the FOI Act, we are not obliged to comply with a request if we estimate that the cost of determining whether we hold the information, locating and retrieving it and extracting it from other information would exceed the appropriate limit. This is calculated at £25 per hour for every hour spent on the activities described. We have estimated that it would still cost over £450 to provide a response to your current request. This is because it is estimated that it would take over 18 working hours to retrieve and compile the information you have requested.

Between February 2018 and February 2019, we received 316 complaints from residents about London Underground noise coming into their homes. 115 of these have been recorded as relating to the Northern Line. However, there may be some complaints where a line is not mentioned or along a stretch of track served by more than one line so it would not be able to identify whether these complaints related to the Northern Line.

With regard to complaints logged under any of our noise categories for London Underground, we have recorded over 200 complaints since September 2018 that have been recorded as relating to the Northern Line. As previously advised, this is with the caveat that this search does not capture all complaints as some will not have any noise related codes assigned to them due to the fact that the complaint involves more than one issue.

If you would like to further refine your request then we would be able to provide you information on when we received the complaints detailed above, with some detail on the type of complaint and location. However, any further details – including copies of the complaints or information on whether the complaint had been resolved would exceed the cost limit.

We do not centrally record whether a complaint has been resolved so we would need to locate any information regarding the action taken after a complaint is received to determine whether it was resolved. Issues identified by customers are likely to have been actioned as part of our regular noise monitoring and not always because of a specific complaint. It would be difficult to identify what work resolved specific complaints. In addition, some issues may reoccur and this may not be recorded against any initial complaint, particularly if some time has passed.

Tackling residential, operational staff and travelling customer noise complaints is ongoing – whilst we are aware of the noise hotspots, we are limited with the works that can be done to address noise. We continuously take noise readings and review the track condition to assess what works can be done to reduce noise. There are various engineering initiatives which we are trialling/aim to trial in an attempt to reduce noise. For example, a new product called SilentTrack was installed on the westbound track between North Greenwich and Canary Wharf in January 2019. We are currently monitoring to assess the impact of this on noise and the growth rate of rail defects. Of course, if deemed successful, we can review the option of installing on other sites.
We are also currently installing softer pads throughout our resilient track fastening sites to reduce the airborne noise experienced by passengers. Our loudest sites have already been completed and we are currently measuring the reduction in noise. Additionally, TfL is also trialling other rail damping technology and a recent installation has been carried out on the Jubilee line. We aim to have reduced the airborne noise in tunnels by the end of 2019.
If you want to refine your request or make a Freedom of Information Act request in future, please bear in mind that the Freedom of Information Act allows you to request recorded information held by Transport for London. You should identify the information that you want as clearly and concisely as you can, specifying the types of document that you are looking for. You might also consider limiting your request to a particular period of time, geographical area or specific departments of TfL.

Although your request can take the form of a question, rather than a request for specific documents, TfL does not have to answer your question if it would require the creation of new information or the provision of a judgement, explanation, advice or opinion that was not already recorded at the time of your request.

Please note that we will not be taking further action until we receive your revised request.

In the meantime, if you have any queries or would like to discuss your request, please feel free to contact me.

Please see the attached information sheet for details of your right to appeal.

Yours sincerely

Gemma Jacob
Senior FOI Case Officer
FOI Case Management Team
General Counsel
Transport for London
[email protected]

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