TRACKSIDE residents in North Oxford have hit out at Network Rail's plans to abandoned promised noise mitigation as an "absolute scandal."

A five-year battle and public enquiry resulted in a long list of conditions to alleviate noise and vibrations caused by the opening of the line between Oxford and Bicester, and beyond to Bletchley, affecting more than 200 homes.

But after being granted planning permission and just four months from the line's proposed opening in December, rail bosses have applied to abandon some of the key measures, imposed by the Secretary of State for Transport.

One of the conditions required Network Rail to install Silent Track to reduce noise created by trains. It had also promised to monitor noise and vibrations over an 18-month period to assess whether more protection was needed for homes in the future.

Both have now been abandoned by the organisation which said the innovative track was not "value for money".

Keith Dancey, whose bedroom in his Wolvercote home is less than eight metres from the track, said the move was an "absolute scandal."

He said: "I'm lost for words at how they can treat us line-side residents like this.

"They have been resisting mitigation from the start but they made all these promises to install the silent track and monitor noise and now they do this.

"They have suddenly applied to withdraw them and they are disobeying what the planning inspector has ruled –and it is an absolute scandal."

Mr Dancey suspected Network Rail were avoiding using the technology – which is widely used in Holland, France, Germany and Australia – as it would set a precedent in residential areas around the country.

At the moment, about 30 trains each day use the line, at an average speed of 30mph.

Once Phase 1, between Oxford and Bicester, and Phase 2, between Bicester and Bletchley in Milton Keynes, are completed, up to 170 trains could run daily at speeds of 75mph.

The 67-year-old retired mathematician has had to install 13 steel rods in his house to protect the structure following damage from the trains, and claimed a survey he conducted of trackside homes revealed more structural problems.

He added: "It's a nightmare for us residents along the line and we are being sacrificed here.

"We have all suffered for many years because of the vibrations and we fought so hard to get these measure and now we will have to do it all over again."

Network Rail first suggested the Tata steel Silent Track – which sees dampers attached to the side of track to absorb vibrations – last year, and it was made a condition of planning permission.

A national planning inspector agreed the measures and even wrote the order into the Transport and Works Act 1992 – those conditions then being agreed by Oxford City Council's west area planning committee.

Lyn Bibbings, who used to live in Waterways, near the track in north Oxford, moved to Burford at the end of last year partly because of the vibrations. She said Network Rail was out of line.

She said: "People all along the railway line are very anxious and concerned by this – particularly the plans to remove any sort of monitoring.

"It just means residents won't know whether the noise and vibrations are breaching the required levels and then won't be able to act on it.

"I moved away partly because of the vibrations and the trouble it caused, and this must be very worrying for people still there."

Network Rail communications manager Simon Masters said the cost of the silent track did not outweigh its benefit.

He said: "Network Rail considered all options when carrying out the upgrade work to the railway line in Oxfordshire.

"The Silent Track system was considered, however the additional cost far outweighed any tangible benefit to the public.

"Network Rail has gone to great lengths to limit the impact of the railway on local residents and where the Silent Track system could have been installed they are already protected by around two-and-a-half miles of extensive noise reduction barriers which is either in the process of, or already installed."

Oxford City Council's planning team will decide whether or not to allow the variation on conditions but in the meantime residents can comment on the proposals by going to and searching for 16/01858/VAR and 16/01861/VAR