AN INNOVATIVE ‘silent rail track’ could be laid at Wolvercote to reduce noise from trains.

Network Rail put forward the idea at a meeting with residents demanding measures to combat noise and vibrations from faster and more frequent train services. The company said it is looking at a silent track option, and might introduce it in North Oxford on a trial basis.

A Tata steel track, known as Silent- Track, was introduced for the first time in the UK at Blackfriars, London, three years ago, and is said to reduce rail traffic noise by up to 50 per cent.

Wolvercote rail noise campaigner Keith Dancey gave the news a cautious welcome.

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He said: “We are told that this track is widely used on the continent to successfully reduce noise and it is something that can be fitted to the track. But we have not seen any data about what it does to reduce vibration levels.

“I think it reduces high frequency vibrations successfully to cut noise, but I’m not sure it will reduce low frequency, the vibrations you feel in a house.”

Mr Dancey, who lives in St Peter’s Road, said it might not be possible to reduce vibration levels without slowing trains down.

Network Rail revealed its plans at a public meeting at North Oxford Community Centre last Thursday. It was attended by Junior Transport Minister Claire Perry and Nicola Blackwood, MP for Oxford West and Abingdon.

The meeting was called after months of protest over the impact of the upgrade of the Oxford-Bicester line, a key element of the new £130m Oxford to London Marylebone rail route.

Network Rail was questioned about protection measures by residents living along the route, mainly to do with noise and vibrations from trains.

Speed of trains along the line has also raised concerns.

Last year Oxford City Council leader Bob Price wrote to Network Rail calling for a speed limit of 30mph for goods trains between Oxford and Water Eaton.

After the meeting, Network Rail spokesman Victoria Bradley said: “One option we are exploring is the use of SilentTrack in the Wolvercote area.This would involve attaching rubber blocks to the side of the railway lines to limit the noise produced when the metal wheels on a train run over the metal lines.

“If the results of our assessment show that SilentTrack is an option, we would look to install it in the Wolvercote area on a trial basis.”

Ms Blackwood added: “From the outset I have been clear that investment in our rail infrastructure is welcome, but Network Rail must work with the local community to protect those living near the development.”