Those Damn Noisy Trains!


Those noisy trains, especially early in the morning, are continuing to drive some Auckand residents crazy.

Did you realise they screech!
The AKT email in-box is once again getting complaints about noise from trains, especially from Parnell residents.
Mel for example wrote to AKT:

“We live in St mary’s close on Parnell road along side the rail way. Normally suffer from the morning train noise at around 5:30 when the first train start in the morning. the noise is ridiculous and the house is trembling. I sincerely hope that i am not the first one to complain on this as there are many houses along side the railway and I believe all of us are suffering from it.
I do understand that the electrification will be done on 2013-2014, but before then, can you please do sth to reduce the noise that we have to live on everyday? Thank you!”

Sadly Mel there is nothing I can do. But I note the Waitemata Local Board has also recently had complaints.

In particular the board’s agenda notes one which complains: “A screeching noise is heard on a consistent basis coming from the trains using the rail tracks near Parnell.”
The board has replied: “The curve around the outside of the Vector arena is the sharpest curve in the NZ railway system. The sharper the curve the more the wheels will squeal.”

The board says it has passed on the complaints onto KiwiRail. Personally, I can’t think of anything they would be able to do!

But there is no doubt as trains become more frequent as we head to electrification, it’s an issue for some residents. Train noise does seem to travel far on a slightly windy Auckland day.




  1. Shaun says:

    The rail line was there first, why move near a rail line and then be upset/surprised when you have to deal with the noise?
    It’s like moving next door to a speedway and being upset when the speedway is on. Rediculous.
    Electrification should make a considerable difference to people living near the rail corridor tho with loise noise and vibrations.

  2. Andy says:

    I’m thinking of moving next to an airport and complaining about the noise of the planes.

    (Yes I will use this same comment every time this topic is brought up!)

  3. rtc says:

    No one is suggesting that the railway line be moved, but it’s no different to trying to minimise motorway - if sound walls for instance could be installed to reduce the sound then they should be.

  4. signalhead says:

    Greasers like the ones used in newmarket are sometimes used to control this problem I understand.

  5. signalhead says:

    Though, grease on such a hill would not be the greatest idea haha. When the track joints are welded and concrete sleepers are in things may get better.

  6. Ian says:

    The wheel squeal around Vector Arena is a constant reminder that Aucklanders are unable to organise piss up in a brewery. When the rail yard was in Britomart Place nothing was done to future proof any possible route into the city. Common sense dictated that a line from Newmarket should follow Beach Rd via an embankment from the Parnell bridge. This was talked about but that was as far as it went.

  7. Matt says:

    signalhead, they’re going to go back to welded joints? Really? I thought that one of the reasons it was so expensive to rehabilitate the network when services started improving was that the continuous track was harder to work with - and also more prone to buckling because of the absence of expansion room.

  8. Alphatron says:

    The issue is one caused by the severity of the curve radius. Changing to electric trains is unlikely to have any effect, other than possibly for the problem to seem worse as there won’t be the sound of the diesel engine to mask the wheels squealing on the rails.

  9. Jim C says:

    Oh dear I feel so sorry for those people. Lol. I’m right next to a railway crossing on a straight bit of track. I have trains running in the middle of the night. The funny thing is that the traffic going over the crossing makes more noise that the train. Especially empty B Trains which actually bounce over the crossing. There is always going to be noise near railways just get real.

  10. Mike F says:

    The AKT email in-box is once again getting complaints about noise from trains, especially from Parnell residents.
    Mel for example wrote to AKT: ……

    once again ? You published this email back in the beginning of January

  11. Rich says:

    Possibly the wrong place to say this, but the problem with the complainers is that they have someone to complain too. Everyone knows that cars make noise, and living next to a street means you will hear cars. But there is no-one you can go to who is responsible for all cars. Trains, though…

    Bottom line: self-centred (because they go to anyone they think or guess to be responsible) busybodies (because of the first paragraph).

  12. James B says:

    Yes there will always be some noise. I have to suffer through idiot train drivers leaning on their horns for a full 5 seconds before the level crossing outside my apartment. Most of them only give a little toot which is fine. Others seem to delight in waking half the neighbourhood with excessive horn use.

  13. Patrick R says:

    Oh the entitlement… always Parnell isn’t it, anyone complaining in Otahuhu?

    Really, perhaps you’re tired of city life and should stay permanently at the bach? No bothersome trains at Omaha, just the calming hum of german SUVs

  14. Andrew Miller says:

    There are lots of places throughout NZ where people would love to hear the sound of trains regularly.

  15. jarbury says:

    It is a problem if we have a land-use strategy to try to encourage intensification around the rail corridor. People are likely to be put off living in such locations by the noise, which makes it difficult to achieve of planning goals.

    I wonder what impact sound walls would have. And how expensive they’d be.

  16. tuktuk says:

    I’m with jarbury on this one. If we want to expand rail in future then we need to be serious about looking at all possible noise mitigation strategies. There is some clever technology overseas being developed to address noise concerns. Noise, in particular wheel flange/track noise is an issue in a number of countries. Check out this link:,%20Wheatley,%20Fogarty,%20Howie,%20Potter,%20Jiang.pdf

    Rail in NZ needs all the friends it can get.

    It also needs to be recognised, that the entire rail track infrastructure is yet another area in NZ which has been done on the cheap - sheer survival necessity. The question now is: if people want a fundamentally better maintained track network with mitigation measures to reduce noise - who is willing to pay?

    If funding can be found some day - then the quality of Queensland’s rail track infrastructure is probably a pretty good place to aim for.

  17. tuktuk says:

    And a few more links:

    Often, it appears there is not a single silver bullet but rather a range of strategies.

    The risk as always is that rail will end up being subjected to a much more onerous standard and a fundamentally different set of rules to roads.

  18. AKT says:

    @Mike F You have a better memory than me! There have been more since.

  19. Patrick R says:

    underground trains! there’s an idea…. now where could we put those….?

  20. Feijoa says:

    I’ve lived right on top of one of the busiest (shallow sections) of Underground in central London and didn’t once hear a peep. They do intensification properly in that development — the tracks in the area were rubber isolated in a cut-and-covered tunnel and the apartments and houses were made of foam-insulated poured concrete with double glazing. It is very handy to go down your lift and have a train come within a few minutes.

    This is the sort of development we should have close to train stations and (when built) the CBD tunnel in Auckland.

  21. Swan says:

    We lived right next to 4 tracks of heavy and light rail in Manchester with trains running constantly. The apartments were well built and inside there was virtually no noise despite the trains being quite squeally. Decent construction is the way to go

  22. James B says:

    Eliminating or reducing the squeaks would also help train passengers as well. You can hear it quite clearly inside the carriage.

  23. DanC says:

    Railway’s will always be noisy and when I moved into my place I knew it would be noisy having the railway running behind the back fence. Thing is, it’s cheap rent and I’m close to a station. Also who can complain when I hold a party!

  24. Jeff H says:

    Interesting links tuktuk. For rail to evolve it’s commonsense that environmental factors adressing emissions, vibration and noise are embraced in the strategy. Ignoring these issues will eventually result in restrictions or curfews. Aviation has made huge progress over a very short period while rail (at least in NZ) seems to have done little. A unified noise strategy for NZ is well overdue.

  25. Steve W says:

    Unfortunately - I believe that it’s the quality of the housing largely, leading to noise complaints but there’s more research from potential residents required. Perhaps the standards of insulation needs to be lifted in houses near the Auckland rail corridors. Fences do little if anything to combat noise in Brisbane from rail corridors.
    I guess that one day Auckland will largely be like Brisbane - a series of unattractive rail trenchs, or at least within about 10km of the city. if the bush along the “Waterfront Line” and other places can be retained it will be for the betterment of rail and Auckland


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