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Tube noise complaints on the rise
Photograph: Kiev.Victor /

London thunderground: tube noise complaints are on the rise

Commuters are fed up with the racket

Written by
Sarah Green

If your ears are ringing after your tube commute, you’re not the only one. The high-pitched, ear-piercing screeching of our transport network is haunting Londoners – so much so, that more than 1,000 tube noise complaints have been made in the past three years.

You can’t go wrong with a good pair of noise-cancelling headphones if you’re braving the Northern or Victoria lines. Figures show the majority of the complaints made to TfL were about these two lines. The Northern line provoked 282 unhappy missives, while the Victoria line weighed in at 254.

According to a hearing expert, the noisiest sections of the tube are the same decibel levels as being at a rock concert. There’s no shortage of unhappy Londoners as a result; complaints have been increasing, with 301 made in 2021, up from 243 the previous year.

So, where is this unholy racket coming from? TfL says the noise coming from the tracks is from normal wear and tear, minor track faults or misaligned joints. Lucky for us, inspections are regularly carried out, and around £150m is spent each year on track improvements; TfL’s maintenance programme includes continual rail grinding that removes defects on the rail surface, and helps reduce noise and vibration.

Hoping to save Londoners’ eardrums, Mayor Sadiq Khan stated that alleviating tube noise ‘remains a top priority’. In the meantime, you might have to put up with the capital’s underground rock concert for a little while longer.

Deafened? Try a lovely silent London bus with a skylight in the roof. 

More London streets are getting 20mph speed limits.

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