Sleepless nights for residents disturbed by tube noise under their homes

After New Journal investigation, residents tell how they've been disturbed by trains racket

Thursday, 24th January 2019 — By Samantha Booth

Luce Jacovella tube noise

Dr Luce Jacovella with her cat Oli in her Somers Town home

NOISE from underground trains is causing sleepless nights and constant disruption, with one woman so exhausted she sofa-surfed for nearly a year.

Dr Luce Jacovella says the screeching of passing Northern and Victoria line trains can be heard in the bedroom of her flat in Levita House, Somers Town.

Some residents are wearing ear protection in bed to try and block the shrill noise out.

Dr Jacovella said: “I went to the GP and they said, ‘look you can’t stay in your own flat, you can’t keep not sleeping’. So, for 10 months I stayed with friends.”

The 50-year-old, who has protested outside City Hall about the noise, said it had reached 52 decibels – which meant she couldn’t have a conversation in her flat.

Dr Jacovella in her one woman protest outside City Hall

World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines say the noise should be no higher than 35 deci- bels at night.

Transport for London (TfL) have installed technology in an attempt to reduce the noise above ground, including in homes.

But, as the New Journal revealed last week, this has had a knock-on effect of causing a screeching noise on the Northern line as loud as a rock concert.

“I’ve asked [TfL] to insulate my flat, for compensation or for them to buy it, and they have refused,” said Dr Jacovella. “I think I will struggle to sell my flat. I tried to rent it out when I was basically homeless and people coming here said ‘no’ because of the noise.”

Dr Jacovella also wants Camden Council to issue a noise abatement order to reduce the sound back to WHO levels.

“This could set a precedent for the rest of London, making it difficult for other councils to forfeit their obligations towards residents,” she added.

Sam Withcombe-Jones, 41, also noticed a “huge” increase in noise in 2016 after 13 years of only faint echoes from the underground in her Mornington Crescent flat.

The front page of last week‘s New Journal

She said: “I’ve poured everything I’ve got into that flat, I never would have bought it if I knew it was happening. I feel really trapped, if I can’t sleep in my own home.

“It feels like a real intrusion. I said to TfL when they came around, ‘do you want to buy my flat as nobody else is going to do it?’”

Work to lessen the sound last year did make a difference, said Mrs Withcombe-Jones, who lives with her husband Dan Withcombe, but she said it has started to “creep” back up again.

Andrew Dismore, London Assembly Member for Camden, will be meeting with deputy mayor for transport Heidi Alexander to further discuss action being taken to fix the issue which has been raised by around 50 households around Camden.

The noise dampeners have benefitted some homes, including in Kentish Town.

Concrete sleepers on the tracks were installed to replace “maintenance-intensive” wooden sleepers on the underground network between 2000 and 2015.

Quizzed about the impact of this by Mr Dis- more, Mayor of London Sadiq Khan said: “In the majority of cases this has not led to an increase in noise complaints.

“However, at some specific sites, like those in the Camden area that you are aware of, corrugation/rail roughness has developed due to specific local track features.”

Camden Council said it was possible it could use the Environmental Protection Act to take action.

Peter McNaught, director of asset operations at London Underground, said: “We fully understand the effect that noise from the Tube can have on local residents, which is why we have undertaken work across the Tube network to try to minimise noise and have met with residents across London to try and address their concerns.

“New noise-dampening pads have been installed around Camden Town to try and reduce noise and vibrations from the trains and we will continue monitor noise levels in the area and to liaise with residents about this issue.”

*Have you been affected by the noise either in your home or on the underground? If so, email 

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