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Noise from Railways and Railway Engineering

Railways are an effective part of out transport network, but just like roads, they produce noise. This can come from routine operation, heavy freight trains or engineering works

Routine Operational Noise

The council cannot generally act on routine noise or noise from trains themselves.

Heavy Freight Trains

Heavy freight trains can create a disproportional amount of noise either from the locomotive working hard, the construction of the vehicles used, or the heavy force on the track. Network Rail has a duty to provide access to the network for freight operators where possible, even on routes which do not normally see freight traffic. The council cannot generally act on noise from heavy freight trains.

Engineering Works

Network Rail has a legal right to carry out engineering works to maintain the network. Often this is done at night for safety reasons or to minimise disruption for those who rely on the trains. Provided best practice is followed to control noise, the council has no remit to intervene.

Network Rail and its contractors are currently carrying out work associated with electrifying the remaining non-electrified main railway line in West Lothian. This is Midcalder Junction - Livingston South - West Calder - Addiewell - Breich - Fauldhouse - Shotts as part of Transport Scotland's electrification programme (opens new window). Electrification is complete, with the first electric test train running in February 2019. Upgrade work at stations is nearing completion.

As much of the necessary work has to be carried out overnight while trains are not running, it is very likely to cause disturbance to those living nearby. Network Rail and its contractors should however be following good working practices to ensure any noise and vibration is not excessive or negligent. Environmental Health have been given very little input to these existing projects to ensure familiarity with what is being carried out, where it is being done and how. However, we would expect that Network Rail and its contractors operate effective neighbour notifications and monitoring of activities in relation to works being carried out.

All complainants relating to railway engineering noise should in the first case be directed to the Network Rail 24 Hour helpline on 03457 11 41 41. 

Environmental Health can request information from Network Rail on the complaints received and action taken. The council can only consider further intervention if evidence is available to demonstrate that best practice is not being followed. 

Work has now been completed on Newbridge Junction - Broxburn - Philipstoun - Linlithgow - Linlithgowbridge - Polmont as part of the EGIP project (opens new window). Electric trains have commenced operation.