Noise level claims sure don’t sound right

Appeared on Gazette website on 21st March 2011

Well it seems that our fears over high noise levels in Ruislip were misplaced and actually we’ve got nothing to worry about. Phew what a relief!

The new consultation documents reveal that residents will not experience the most severe noise level (73 decibels or more) because of some clever mitigation measures. And – this is the best bit – the final noise impact will actually be less than current noise levels. Hooray!

I bet you’re wondering how such a fantastic feat of engineering can be achieved. A tunnel? No try again. Lower speeds perhaps? Nope, still wrong. New laws of physics? Nah, it’s much cleverer than that. By telling porkies? Yes it seems so. The truth is buried deep within the enlightening technical reports prepared by Bamboozle & Tamper (or names similar to that). A little bit of patient ploughing through the hundreds of pages and multiple appendices finally reveals these astonishing facts:

(1) Appendix 5 of the Appraisal of Sustainability confirms that with trains travelling between 250kmh and 350kmh, daily average noise levels will still exceed 73 decibels. (No surprise there but remember this is average noise, not the passing train noise).

(2) But Volume 2 of the Appraisal reveals that after a few demolitions, only a handful of the remaining 100+ homes from West Ruislip to Ruislip Gardens (where the published track speed is still 250kmh to 300kmh) will experience these high noise levels. The rest mysteriously won’t.

(3) And after mitigation measures (which aren’t revealed but hinted at being noise barriers) only a few homes will even qualify for noise insulation.

(4) And after the presumed noise barriers, everyone else in Ruislip won’t even experience a noticeable noise increase. This particular criteria is noise greater than 50 decibels – so their future noise prediction is magically even lower than the current ambient noise estimate for houses in the HA4 postcode area (published on the Department for Environment website).

(5) And the problem of aerodynamic noise (unavoidable in High Speed trains), now finally partly acknowledged, is modelled by the experts as being a noise source located just 1 metre high or lower when High Speed trains will be taller than normal trains (Appendix 5 page 46). Perhaps they had the Ruislip Lido train in mind!

Now I might be cynical, but this appears to be shaping up as one of the shoddiest consultations of recent times. Shall I give you more? OK why not.

6) For those wondering where Ruislip is, some published maps show us about 50 miles north of here & nowhere near the route (for example see Appendix 5 pages 72-73)

7) For those in the west, an example of improved journeys is given as Reading-to-Manchester, with this journey time impossibly reduced to 1 hour 28 minutes (see the Consultation Summary or main Consultation paper). Considering the High Speed train from Euston to Manchester will be at least 1 hour 40 minutes this does seem unlikely and misleading.

All quite hilarious and appalling in equal measure. Well I suppose in the spirit of cutbacks to public finances and services everywhere, perhaps a few sackings might be considered within HS2 Ltd and the DfT (or should that be DafT). Please contact your MP and tell them about this nonsense and most importantly ask questions of HS2 Ltd. through the consultation, the roadshow and via your MP.

Get involved in the consultation at www.dft.gov.uk

Visit our website www.ruislip-against-hs2.co.uk

HS2 Ltd. will be at the Winston Churchill Hall on the 30th and 31st 8am to 8pm. Ruislip residents will be protesting each day from 6-8pm – come along and join us!

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