Sometimes residents are disturbed by noise coming from railways near their houses - either from the trains themselves or by work taking place on the tracks or railway premises.
All railway operators have a statutory duty to run an efficient and safe railway transport system. This statutory duty does not exempt rail transport operators from action under the Environmental Protection Act 1990 for nuisance from noise and vibration.
In general terms, however, action against railway operators for nuisance due to noise and vibration would fail unless it could be proved that the railway operator had not been diligent regarding maintenance, had not used the best practicable means (which includes cost) and also that there is a readily available engineering solution to mitigate the nuisance caused.
Where a new or improved railway is proposed, or residential properties are proposed near to an existing line, the Council's environment services will make comments and recommendations to the planning department. A concerned resident may also contact the railway operator privately in order to request help.
Works being carried out on the track or railway premises constitute building works, and the noise from them can be controlled as with any other construction site. Maldon District Council will advise or require the contractor or operator to employ noise reduction measures such as shielding, barriers, noise insulation, substituting quieter machinery, and agreeing acceptable working hours. Often the complainant will be consulted in the negotiations to agree acceptable and workable solutions.
It is sometimes not possible to reach a solution which satisfies all parties, particularly as there are often over-riding considerations associated with rail safety and possession of the track.