Hi All, Has anyone else noticed that there’s been a huge increase in train noise and vibration in recent months for those of us living close to Forest Hill Station? From our observations, the cause seems to be more and more Thameslink trains passing through at high speed. A concerned neighbour tells us that the vibrations from these trains are so bad that even their bath water is shaking - something that has never happened before. We’re planning to contact Network Rail and also Ellie Reeves MP about it to see what can be done perhaps to dampen the effects. But first we thought we’d share here in case anyone has thoughts on the matter.
They are pretty noisy. But I feel like it is more noticable just because it’s way more frequent.
To be honest if you’re that concerned I’d just move because there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Secondly, there’s a risk in the future that national rail could run 24 hour services on some routes. Thameslink could be one of them. Probably won’t happen anytime soon but it’s one to think about.
This will sound brutal but don’t choose to live next to a train line (or the South Circular or near a bus stop).
I bought my flat 3 years ago obviously fully aware of the railway… for the majority of the time it’s been handleable. The stopping trains have never been an issue for me and the faster ones were relatively infrequent.
Since London Bridge got finished however it seems to have got worse and worse… every couple of minutes at times. The 12 car monsters are the worst… don’t know if they’re noisier when full or empty but I reeeelly notice them around 9-11.30 when for instance I’m watching a film on pretty loud speakers and I have to pause it for a bit because I can’t hear a thing.
As for what can be done… who knows, most likely nothing as Hollow says. Speed restrictions are probably out due to complicated timetables and quick journeys for those further out. Some kind of dampening, I don’t know if it even exists and I’d better stop there before I get into sci-fi territory.
And yes of course we knew what we were getting into. However it HAS got much much worse… so Birdinhand go ahead and contact someone and I’ll join in.
As for not living near the SC or a bus stop… I’ve done both and neither were close to as bad as this… although buses accelerating up Dartmouth road from the junction when I lived there was quite bad.
One last thing for fun… I didn’t notice on the aircraft noise thread anyone suggesting that perhaps they shouldn’t live in centralish London on top of a hill or that they should expect changes in future and don’t complain and either put up or move… so give us our chance to moan even though it will probably come to nothing. It’s therapeutic!
Thanks to all those who’ve replied so far. Good to see there’s an emerging consensus that train noise and vibration has worsened significantly. Clearly this is an issue that Network Rail ought to be made aware of.
Watershed, sadly there were quite a few on there who suggested that planes a couple of thousand feet overhead where none were before should be expected in a busy city. At least railway lines and roads give a bit more clue!
But yes, when usage is upped/changed without consideration for those nearby, it’s galling. You can lay bets that those pocketing the income from longer trains or more flights, aren’t directly affected. And I suspect even if local impact was considered, if it fell within a lowish %, it’s probably classed as acceptable - and then another few % points climb on in real life and for the next enhancement - and suddenly it’s twice as noisy.
Modern trains seem to me to be much smoother, more comfortable and quieter inside than the old ones. Therefore, I would expect external noise to be reduced.
Perhaps the track requires relaying, especially after the incident of the sink-hole.
I do occasionally enjoy a fast journey from East Croydon to London Bridge in just twenty minutes at high speed.
I was standing in HOP station talking to a mate one morning last week when one of the southbound Thameslink trains came through fast and we paused our conversation because it was so loud. I don’t know whether they’re any noisier than the old trains, but agree with one of the posters above that the noise / traffic has probably been artificially reduced while services have been reduced through London Bridge. I wonder whether houses all along Devonshire Road are affected - when I lived there c. 2001/2002 we could always hear the heavy trains passing in the night but rarely during the day.
To the OP, good luck. As you say, even if nothing changes, it’s therapeutic to talk about it!
This is much more noticeable further south along Devonshire where the track is at the same level as the back gardens. Towards the Honor Oak end, there is a cutting and this muffles the sound a lot.
Some levels of Network Rail are aware, but it is difficult to communicate with anyone above ‘customer service’ levels.
There is apparently no statutory obligation on Network Rail to pay any attention to people they disturb, so it is a political matter - whether pressure can be applied. There are always technical solutions to noise and vibration but they cost money.
You can contact Thameslink as well as Network Rail: 0345 026 4700
I don’t understand the expectation of a correlation that external noise would be reduced because things are quieter inside. The noise inside has been reduced by double glazing and other insulation but trains may be still be running (faster) on knackered tracks.
Yes, between Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill, most of the track is in a cutting, so the trains are not seen or heard. As the line approaches Forest Hill, the track rises above the level of gardens in Devonshire. Also Stanstead Road is affected - the section of Stanstead Rd which is parallel with the track - where the line is at 1st or 2nd floor level of houses in Stanstead. The line is also much closer to housing along this stretch.
I can’t imagine that the Thameslink trains speeding through could not have increased noise and vibration. However Network Rail also took down a lot of line-side trees at the end of last year which won’t have helped if that’s near you:
Investing in windows with good sound insulation could help somewhat. Other than that I agree there is very little that can be done. I’m not a lawyer, but afaik there is no legislation in place that would require any specific measures even if traffic increases, especially not for railway lines that existed for more than a century. In fact, the trains are new, the tracks look quite new as well so it’s hard to see what else would improve the situation in the short term.
I believe Thameslink trains already run 24 hours to Gatwick. They have used other routes for several years while London Bridge was being rebuilt so them coming back would have made a noticeable difference.
This has nothing to do with noise though. Trees and shrubs can be good for wildlife, micro-climate and absorbing dust but it’s a myth that they make any noticeable difference to noise. They are definitely very bad for running trains in autumn from what the leaflets tell us.
My point was that the engineering has reduced internal noise. Therefore, I would expect it also to address external noise. I agree that it is probably the track that has caused any increase in noise.
Personally, I believe that trees and hedges do reduce noise levels. But they cannot be retained because they drop leaves on the line, except for evergreen hedges. but they would need to be trimmed at least annually.
Most of the effect appears to be indeed about perception rather than physics. Researchers have explored this in some detail with a good selection available for bed time reading such as this one for instance.
Perception is an important factor of course, so if a hedge makes one think that it’s less noisy, then it’s probably still a good idea to plant one (alongside any other reasons).
Well that statement certainly flyies in the face of common sense, and the effects have been studied and measured with equipment to avoid bias from human perception e.g. this study. Granted you need a fair few trees to make a big difference, but I don’t agree with describing this as a myth.
Others have also complained about the the Network Rail tree felling increasing noise. From this article:
In a letter to transport minister Mr Johnson on July 6, Witley Parish Council said although residents were alerted in advance by notices fixed to a fence in August 2017, “the total devastation came as a complete shock”.
It wrote that as a result of the loss of trees, the noise from trains has increased “significantly”, and in June or July, the rail company installed an “ugly eight-foot high green metal fence” at the top of a bare slope.
Notably I don’t think there was a real solution presented in the above article and the then Transport Minister backed Network Rail. Therefore the advice of soundproofing around this problem seems prudent.
Well, that’s the point. There is no doubt that if you planted a dense 20 metre thick jungle in your back garden you may get some kind of improvement.
They probably would have had to chop down large parts of Garthorne and Devonshire Road Nature Reserves for it to make a material difference on noise - which they gladly didn’t.
Maybe we can agree on the effect being much less than one might expect.
Ah - so it’s not a myth that trees have an effect on noise then.
Also if you look at the study I cited, Figure 6 shows you need much less than a 20m wide jungle to get decent attenuation. An area just 10m wide starts to give 10dBA of attenuation which is significant because it’s around a 10dBA increase that humans perceive sounds as roughly doubling in volume. A 3m wide area gives 6dBA or more attenuation, so still perceivable to the human ear. The visibility metric shows the effect on planting density.
Let’s just agree to disagree.
It is for the particular context discussed in this thread, for the reasons I’ve mentioned.
I would consider this a rather selective interpretation of the diagram. Besides, by inspection this particular study has been done for point sources, not exactly representative for trains running along a railway track.
The more relevant point is though that even if clearing vegetation along railway lines had an impact on noise, that alone wouldn’t be a reason not to regularly do it.
Having contacted Network Rail earlier this week via their web-chat at:
we’ve just received the following response from their on-line support centre:
"Thank you for contacting Network Rail.
We can advise that works will be undertaken this weekend in this area. We hope this should help alleviate the problems you have experienced.
Thank you for taking the time to report this issue.
We appreciate this may simply be a happy coincidence but it at least suggests there’s some awareness of the issue. We will of course continue to monitor.
Might be worthwhile others also contacting Network Rail via the web chat route if they’re concerned about train noise and vibration.
This appears to be Network Rail’s generic response. They have told me they will this month be working to fix the ‘broken’ rail located adjacent to 39 Stanstead Road (this is approximate location as I have no access to track) on the inside south bound track used by stopping trains coming into platform 2 at Forest Hill Station.
It will be interesting to see if there is any sign of work and if it makes any difference. But if anything does happen credit should go to @DevonishForester who has kept Network Rail focused on this issue!
Whatever work they were doing seems to be unconnected with the broken/uneven rail that myself and at least two neighbours have been reporting for 18 months.
On several occasions Network Rail have told me it’s been dealt with or about to be dealt with … they close then the case and I’m supposed to re-report, they allocate a fresh case number, and we repeat the sequence.
Anyone affected by rail noise/vibration issues interested in forming a working group (possibly under the auspices of Forest Hill Society) to explore action, please PM me.
I would be interested in a working group to see if there is anything I can do to improve the situation.
I live on Devonshire Road and our garden is level with the tracks and have noticed a considerable increase in train noise and vibration, since the introduction of the Thames Link Service and the new timetable. The speed of some of the trains is quite alarming.
I think this will only get worse with the ever increasing frequency of trains.
My nephew drives trains on that line so I asked him about it and gave him the location above. He replied saying
There is an “insulated block joint” on both southbound lines at the same location there. They are places where two “Track Circuits” are separated, so there is a gap between the two lengths of rail, filled in with an insulating material. If that has worn down then there will be a larger gap than normal and creates that noise residents are hearing. On Google Maps, you can see the exact location by looking for two boxes joined by a long metal strip in the centre of the rails. Hopefully that information can help them when trying to give a location to NR, as they’ll be looking for an actual broken rail - not the insulated block joint. Also, the same issue is at New Cross Gate if you leave southbound on a London Overground train, you can hear the ‘clunk clunk’ they go under the bridge.
I hope this could be of some use perhaps when you contact Network Rail.
This is really helpful thanks. I have raised this with Network Rail on three separate occasions over the last 12 months and still nothing has been done. Perhaps this will help…
Quick update for those concerned about the banging noise that has been going on for about a year on the Southbound track just north of Forest Hill Station (between Stanstead and Devonshire Roads).
I spoke with Network Rail this morning, they claim (and my experience with them is to believe it when I see it) that they have confirmed there is a problem with an insulating block joint at that location, that on 18 Feb they sent an email to the service team requesting an inspection, which is supposed to take place within 20 days and thereafter they will schedule the maintenance to fix it.
So it sounds promising but they’ve given assurances like this several times over the past 9 months without delivering.
I have been reporting the issue to Network Rail for 18 months. This morning they told me it’s a known problem (from inspection in November 2018) and due to be fixed at the end of Feb …
(Although the Environmental Health Officers at Lewisham Council have no specific statutory responsibilities regarding noise from road/rail/air, I believe that they do have an overall Duty of Care for residents.)
Yes, this is confirmed by Govia Thameslink in their letter to me:
“In May 2018 a new Southern Rail and Thameslink timetable was introduced. The most notable change was that Thameslink services between Blackfriars and East Croydon, which had been diverted via an alternative route since January 2015, were changed to run via London Bridge and on their original route which passes your property. These will all be express services therefore they will be passing your property at high speed.”
I have written back to ask in what circumstances they will consider installing nose baffling.
According to an article in The Telegraph, apparently the World Health Organisation has noise standards:
It would be interesting to know how our situation could be measured in relation to that standard. I don’t think I can face calling Lewisham Environmental Services to be told “we don’t deal with it”.
Yup… as expected!
Looking forward to hearing their response to noise baffling (they may take ‘nose’ baffling as a threat!)
Whether that would do much good for anything above ground floor I’m not sure though. It may even act as an amplifier for those ‘above’ the track.
Still, worth a go!
As for the WHO thing… I’m thinking of getting this decibel meter app thing for my ipad to get some idea of the levels… how it’s calibrated I’ve no idea but at least it’ll answer my question about why they seem louder between 8pm and 12 ish.
Anyway… happy to be involved in any efforts to make out lives a bit more peaceful!
- Network Rail have told me that they could not fix the
when the line was closed at the end of Feb, because of faulty or broken equipment, so it has been rescheduled for end of May.
- I have a had a reply from GTR Thameslink who say:
“All railway infrastructure outside of stations are owned and managed by Network Rail. I would encourage you to raise a complaint specifically with them as only they would be in a position to install any further infrastructure.”
Is anyone up for some work to see if anything can be done about the new schedule of fast non-stopping trains which is the main problem as noted by BirdinHand who kicked off this thread? Whether we could get noise and vibration measured, and whether there’s any possible remedy available?
I’m not sure how to proceed, but happy to discuss with anyone interested. I have received some PM’s about this and I think we will set up a meeting soon. I am pessimistic about getting any help from Lewisham, even though I believe they do have a Duty of Care for residents.
I asked my nephew again about the train noise themselves, he said:
The Thamselink trains (Class 700), have a distinctive and new type of bogie. It is fully open on the sides compared to the Southern Class 377 and the London Overground Class 378 (they are the same family of train, Electrostar/Capitalstar). The 455s usually travel quite slowly anyway so never an issue.
The problem I think is that on the Thameslink trains, the noise from the wheels can be easily deflected sideways, whereas the 377/378s the noise is more likely bounced around between the bogies and back out, as only about a quarter of each wheel is exposed externally. With the longer 12 car Thameslink trains running constantly, it would be very noticeable.
Here’s some pics.
Southern 377 Bogie
London Overground 378 Bogie
Thanks for the interesting post. But I think the explanation is probably simpler - the Thameslink trains run fast between London Bridge and East Croydon so they go through Forest Hill at considerable speed and they are 12 carriages long. By contrast fewer Southern Services run fast through Forest Hill (and those that do to my eyes are not going at the speed of the Thameslinks neither are they as long), and of course the London Overground services travel slowly and are decelerating into Forest Hill station. Ironically because of the broken insulating joint on the slow southbound line that has been broken for 12+ months and has still not been repaired despite numerous complaints to Network Rail, the London Overground trains are as much of a noise annoyance as the fast trains currently!
Very grateful to you and nephew.
I have asked Network Rail what the speed limit is for non-stopping trains though Forest Hill. I will post here if/when they reply.
A Southern new style train will go the same speed through Forest Hill as a Thameslink train if it’s on the fast line. The limit on that line is 60/70mph (husband who knows these things can’t remember off the top of his head which it is).
Thanks RJM. My next question will be how this limit is set: who sets it and what criteria are used to assess an appropriate speed?
From what I’ve picked up, I would assume it’s not dissimilar to how road speed limits are set, based on safety and the type of line eg the high speed lines will be very different to the suburban ones. But I don’t work in railways, so this is all second hand knowledge.
He is good but probably sick of me pestering him by now, he won’t come here himself. He said his company prohibits social media presence, or something like that.
From New Cross Gate to Norwood Junction, it is 60mph on the slow lines and 70mph on the fast lines (both directions). Line speeds are determined by a number of factors, namely curvatures, gradients, infrastructure, signalling and types of train driven over it. In most places there is also a lower speed for freight alongside a higher speed for passenger services. Network Rail own and maintain the UK railway infrastructure, set the permissable speeds and govern it’s usage (operators have to pay NR to access the infrastructure, using it’s electricity and to maintain a scheduled service on it). Network Rail also employ the Signallers and operate the Signal Boxes/SCC/ROCs.
“Line speeds are determined by a number of factors” - apparently not including the effect on neighbours.
“Network Rail own and maintain the UK railway infrastructure, set the permissable speeds and govern it’s usage” - looks like Network Rail is business owner, and writes the regulations for its own industry, and is judiciary on its own regulations.
Agreed. Sunday 19th May there is a line closure south of New Cross Gate, that’s the date that the Insulated Block Joint should be fixed. Also the maximum permissable speed will increase from 20mph to 40mph from Sydenham to Crystal Palace that day, after works are completed on the signalling at Sydenham, so those that have houses backing on to the line up to Sydenham will have something to worry about too!
As far as I’m aware the only type of trains that use the Sydenham to Crystal Palace spur are Southern 377/455 and London Overground Class 378, which are considerably quieter than the Thameslink 700s which are the cause of the problem on the mainline.
The fast non-stopping Southern trains also produce considerable noise/vibration.
Passenger trains running through the night … are Gatwick trains on diversion through Forest Hill, or is this a new 24 hour schedule?
There are engineering works today and tomorrow between East Croydon and Victoria closing most lines so a lot of the services that normally run to Victoria are going into London Bridge instead which presumably means more trains running through the night.
The non-stopping trains are running slowly through today. It makes a huge difference to the noise/vibration levels, which are consequently much lower.
Just wondering if anyone had any update on the broken insulating block joint issue on the slow southbound line that has been discussed on here. This has been broken for over a year, I’ve complained at least half a dozen times to Network Rail as it makes a repetitive banging sound every single time a train passes over it (so about 100+ times a day including early morning and late into the night). I seem to recall the last suggestion was that it was supposed to be fixed in May, but here we are nearing the end of the month and it’s still banging away…
It wasn’t repaired on the last line closure on the 12th sadly.
There is no penalty if Network Rail tells us lies. They have no responsibility to us - under the current legislative framework - for disturbance caused by a badly worn or broken insulating block joint.
As regards the speed of non-stopping trains (following the London Bridge refurbishment, and new scheduling) I have had written confirmation that all they need consider is whether their own infrastructure can tolerate the speed. Any noise or vibration caused to neighbouring people or structures is apparently not their concern.
This doesn’t mean that nothing can be done, but it does mean that it is a political issue.
I was sat on platform at Forest Hill yesterday and I noticed quite the difference between the Thameslink trains and all others, there is a distinct difference in my opinion. It may be the the difference between the slow and fast lines, but even the Southern 171s I felt were quieter than the TL 700s. I still stand by my previous posts that it’s the open design under the floor that causes a greater issue.
TfL website is showing the next closure through Forest Hill as being on Sunday 22nd September. That would be the earliest it would be addressed, if it ever is addressed.
There was some incredibly noisy work on the track, just north of Forest Hill Station, from approx 03.20 on Thursday (6th June). Does anyone know what was happening? A line of brightly lit open steel-framed trucks with engine at both ends. Lots of guys dressed in fluorescent walking along the tracks with torches. The train went backwards and forwards over the same area a few times. I hoped they might be dealing with the noisy joint, since they were in that area, but it’s the same or worse following their visit.
I had a new message from Network Rail, closing my enquiry.
Over two years, they have variously told me:
- There is no problem;
- There was a problem, but they fixed it;
- They have found a problem and it is scheduled to be fixed;
- They had to postpone the fixing of the problem, because necessary equipment was not available or was broken.
The latest reason for not dealing with it is “This area is jointed track which would naturally cause a banging noise”
The thing is, there was no banging until two years ago since when it has gradually got worse.
I also got an email about the same issue closing my enquiry which says “Works planned for next access in week 19”. So it’s obvious NR are just making it up as they go along. I don’t have any optimism they intend to fix the problem and I have no idea when “week 19” is since we’re already more than 19 weeks into 2019.
Presumably week 19 of the financial year? So starting from April that would be early August.
Asked the nephew, this coming Saturday 22nd to Friday 28th June will be Week 13 for Network Rail. He said he only get’s the next week’s operating notice that describes works coming up so can’t tell what is being done then. Looked at TfL for forthcoming engineering works and we have the following:
Sunday 11th August: New Cross Gate to Crystal Palace and West Croydon, no service until 08:15
That would work out as roughly Week 19 then, but 0130-0815 is incredibly short amount of time unless it’s purely just to redo that Insulated Block Joint.
I heard today from Network Rail: “work will take place to lift and pack the track on the week commencing the 4th November .”
I am not sure what the banging nose is caused by; suggestions have included (1) broken rail, (2) uneven join, (3) worn insulating block joint, and I recently heard of something called an (4) expansion switch.
If this noise - which is as loud as a pile-driver on a major construction site - is fixed, we are still left with the overall increase in noise and vibration since the new schedule was introduced following the completed refurbishment of London Bridge.
It is 100% an uneven, worn down insulated block joint, exacerbated by poorly bedded sleepers/ballast on the Down Sussex Slow. The next line closure south of New Cross Gate is not scheduled until the weekend of 23/24 November. Unless that week they are doing it during the usual closed hours 0100-0500, which is unlikely, then Network Rail are telling porkies.
The 4th Nov is a Monday, but they only say “week commencing”, not specifying a day.
More scheduled closures have passed and still no change.
The latest excuse from Network Rail:
"Access in this area has been extremely difficult as it needs a track possession and this has been cancelled at short notice by the train operating companies.
I can confirm that the next lift and pack of the track will be the 22nd December 2019."
I thought Network Rail had the final word on closures; isn’t it normally the train companies blaming NR when there’s a closure for works?
This particular problem has been going on for over 18 months. I will write again to our MP in due course or try to see her.
The same problem that plagues Forest Hill that is just south of New Cross Gate has been silenced, (if you sit in garden of The Rose, you know what I mean). Therefore there’s no reason for the one outside Forest Hill to have been ignored for so long.
I need to add my voice to this discussion. I live further down the track towards Sydenham 250 - 300 feet away from the track across a section of lineside urban green space which used to belong to Network Rail. There has been a substantial increase in noise particularly due to the Thameslink trains now made worse by the removal of lineside vegitation last year. This part of the track is meant to be green corridor. We have gone from being a quiet spot with some low volume trains to area where you just cannot have windows open or enjoy the garden. Sally I’m thinking of moving after 30 years but very willing to contact MP and perhaps take part in measuring sound levels if I knew how to go about it.
My solution would be to plant hedges alongside railway lines. I do not favour large deciduous trees because they drop leaves on the line and may fall on the line. But neatly trimmed evergreen hedges would look nice and baffle some of the noise.
Morning, I live in Devonshire Road. it has been two nights that there are extremely noisy heavy works on the railway from 2am to 4.30am! Who can I contact to understand if the works will be undertaken tonight as well? I won’t handle a third night without sleep
It will be Network Rail:
I don’t see any planned worked on their Upgrade Plan map so perhaps it’s general maintenance work.
Thanks! Apparently they don’t have any works in the system and they said they will contact the local team…
Perhaps it’s thieves nicking the metal for scrap!
I presume you heard the extremely loud train horn just after 4am…
Can’t see how’s that’s necessary!
fyi I got an answer from Network Rail:
We have spoken with our Control team who have advised that track maintenance has been carried out near Forest Hill. They have also advised that some works will also be carried out between 01:00 – 05:10 Friday 22 May between New Cross Gate and Norwood Junction. We just wanted to let you know before the works started.
Considering all the track maintenance work you’ve had to put up with during the night this week you’d expect they would have identified any faults - yet I’ve just seen this on the Southern website!
Network Rail technicians are on site in the Forest Hill area investigating a track defect. As a result of this all trains will be running on the slow line, creating more traffic than usual, causing delays.
Could it be related to the warmer weather? Or at least excuses along those lines
If workers are trackside then the driver must sound the horn as a warning. The lookout will then acknowledge this. It’s a necessary safety precaution.
The driver will also sound the horn where trespassers are trackside. E.g graffiti-ists and other vandals.
Generally, train horns won’t be used between 00:00 and 05:59, unless to use as a warning to someone on or near the line. In the case of the situation Watershed mentioned, it would’ve been a warning to someone on or near the line whilst the engineering train was outside of the possession.
I’m bringing this thread back to what I think is the main issue: the failure of our legislature to set standards regarding the levels of noise and vibration that rail transport can impose on affected populations.
Sadly not possible as the effected area is a Conservation area
Windows don’t deal with vibration, and even if they did , why should anyone have to live inside all the time to enjoy quiet?
All the normally fast trains seem to be going slow through Forest Hill. Makes a very pleasant change, can barely hear them!
How do we make it permanent?!
Literally just pressed return and a quick one went through
This is an important question. Why can’t we have a system which recognises the right to peaceful life, and specifies the level of noise and vibration that is tolerable? Councillors and MP seem uninterested. When you live in a safe uncontested constituency, with First Past the Post voting, it’s hard to get things done unless the establishment wants it.
Could anyone let me know if this problem remains before I commit to a flat very close to the tracks?? I’m reading a no! Thank you in advance!
Things were beautifully quiet for a while, at the beginning of the pandemic, now it seems worse than ever. Incredible volume of Thames Link trains whizzing through late at night, also continuing through the night although less frequent until around 6 AM when it all builds up again.
Has anyone thought about petitioning for a soundproof wall around the tracks in the affected area?
Yes, but there are formidable obstacles.
Rail companies apparently have a basic immunity (I don’t know whether this has been tested in cases) under the Railways Act 1993, as described by Network Rail in recent correspondence:
“Parliament has always recognised that railway operations can give rise to a degree of unavoidable noise and disturbance. For this reason, section 122 of the Railways Act 1993 provides Network Rail and train operators with a statutory defence to proceedings for nuisance. Ordinarily this would cover claims alleging excessive noise or vibration.” NB ‘ordinarily’ implies that there are exceptions.
The official Government website states: “If you think that noise levels are affecting your health contact your local council who will investigate on your behalf.” Noise from roads, trains or planes: Railway noise - GOV.UK
But Lewisham Council’s website states that railway noise is something “we cannot deal with”. Lewisham Council - Noise and other disturbances we investigate
So it appears that there is lack of clarity about who, if anyone, is responsible for taking noise/vibration measurements. Even if measurements were taken, I’m not aware that there are published legal standards regarding what is an acceptable level of disturbance.
I see. There is an economic interest in the area as there are new flats about to be built near forest hill station so we could try to find an ally in the company who is managing this.
When a new school was built close to a railway line noise baffles were incorporated in the design. The developers may need to d this in order to sell the new flats.
A nice evergreen hedge along railway tracks would look good and reduce noise. However, they would cost a lot to maintain.