Cabinet responds to train horn petition

Petition presented to Cabinet

A petition was presented to Spelthorne Borough Council's Cabinet on Tuesday 12 December from 88 residents affected by constant noise from the sounding of train horns on the approach to Shortwood Common pedestrian railway crossing.

Residents reported that up to 297 trains pass the crossing each day and explained how the sound from horns from early morning until late at night is affecting their quality of life. They reported that the noise has increased substantially over recent years due to the "whistle board" being moved further to the centre of the residential area. A whistle board is a safety sign that tells train drivers they are approaching a crossing and requires them to sound their horns as a warning. Faster trains and changes to night-time quiet period rules have made matters worse for people living nearby and there is concern that the number of trains could increase in the future. 

The crossing has been assessed as being the 9th riskiest in the region. Train drivers must sound the horn as a warning when passing the whistle board. Failure to do so puts the train operating companies in breach of health and safety requirements and, more importantly, could endanger lives.

In response to the complaints from residents, the council has asked Network Rail to consider quieter alternatives to the whistle board. The railway authorities have agreed to do this as part of a safety and risk assessment of the crossing which is due for review in January 2018. 

Network Rail has put forward the following possible options:

  • closing the crossing;
  • installing a footbridge; or
  • installing miniature stop lights (currently scheduled for 2022)

Cllr Gething, Cabinet member for Environment and Compliance said: "We have every sympathy for the residents whose lives are clearly being blighted by loud noise from train horns up to 297 times per day. It is important to stress that the decision on the best safety solution going forwards is ultimately one for the railway authorities to make. We will however do what we can to make sure they give due consideration to the impact on residents living nearby as well as those who use the crossing on a regular basis. We will also be asking them to consult residents on the options and for their views to be taken into account."

The Cabinet agreed to note the Petition and keep the matter under review.