SkyTrain noise irks False Creek condo residents

Clacking of trains going through switches creates 'unacceptable' sound, TransLink told

Condo residents in Vancouver’s northeast False Creek area are begging TransLink to do something to reduce what they say is excessive noise from the frequent SkyTrains that zip by every few minutes until late at night.

Paul Altilia told the TransLink board Friday the “persistent clacking” of SkyTrains going through switches creates an “unacceptable level of noise” for the roughly 4,000 residents or families of the neighbourhood.

“It’s just gotten to a level where the residents of this area are no longer actually able to carry on a normal conversation comfortably on their balconies,” Altilia said, adding SkyTrain noise levels have been measured as high as 90 decibels.

Vivienne King, the president of TransLink’s SkyTrain subsidiary, B.C. Rapid Transit Co., said TransLink has already cut the speed SkyTrains can run through the tight curve there from 65 to 50 kilometres per hour as one measure to try to reduce the noise volume.

“Steel on steel will make noise,” King said. “It will never be silent.”

Maintenance crews regularly grind sections of track to help control noise and SkyTrain wheels can also be reshaped to better fit the profile of the rail.

King said work is also ongoing to replace high-use track switches, but 100 of them need to be replaced across the system and at a pace of about one per weekend the project will take two years.

Beyond that, TransLink is studying options to use noise barriers or dispersers at locations near homes. Those options so far all look expensive and not necessarily reliable, King said.

The rapidly densifying east False Creek neighbourhood never existed when the first SkyTrain line was built in the 1980s – it was an industrial zone.

TransLink board director Larry Beasley said it’s an important issue for TransLink since another 10,000 residents will likely be moving into the area after the Georgia and Dunsmuir viaducts are dismantled to make way for new development.

SkyTrain runs through the viaducts and near dense condo buildings. bing.com image.

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