Questions for GTR at the March 24 meeting

The next trainwash open evening hosted by Govia Thameslink, Spencer Group and Greater Anglia should be (subject to change) on Monday 24 Feb at 18:30 at the Salvation Army Building, 3 Tenison Rd, Cambridge CB1 2DG.

We are hoping that Network Rail also attends this meeting, as GTR claims that Network Rail, which owns the land, is responsible for the planning permission issue.

As far as we are aware, Network Rail have never attended a public consultation about this trainwash.

We will be putting out questions for the meeting on this page.

Questions for GTR at the Feb 24 meeting

UPDATED FEB 24

Last week we sent an email to GTR asking for the following questions to be addressed on Monday February 24 at the beginning of the meeting and that the questions be addressed in order. Come along and stand with us, and if you can’t attend, please sign and share our petition, as over 550 people have done already.

  1. Planning approval. There are two relevant planning approvals:

    A. GTR’s 18/1372/CAP18), which confines itself to alterations to the Mill Road Bridge, noting in the title only that one of the reasons is “to facilitate new sidings”. The application does not provide a comprehensive plan for the industrial scale train wash facility. In the letter dated 15 August 2018 from Steve Taylor to Planning Services at the Cambridge City Council, the proposed carriage wash is mentioned twice in Schedule 1 as the reason for the need for the alterations, but no further details are provided in writing or in the drawings and photographs in Schedule 2. This detail would have provided context for the application that might have impacted the City Council’s decision based on injury to the amenity of the neighbourhood, a critical part of the GDPO 2015.

    B. GTR’s 18/5161PREAPP, which assumes that the trainwash falls under Schedule 2 Part 8 Class A of the GDPO 2015. However, this application relies entirely on “Permitted Development, A, Development by railway undertakers on their operational land, required in connection with the movement of traffic by rail.” This application does not address “Development not permitted, A.1 (c)(i) “the construction or erection otherwise than wholly within a railway station of – (i) …a building used for an industrial process, or (ii) a car park…”. “Industrial process” is defined earlier in GDPO as “a process for or incidental to any of the following purposes … (b) the altering, repairing, maintaining, ornamenting, finishing, cleaning, washing, packing, canning, adapting for sale, breaking up or demolition of any article…. Had the full extent of the facility been explained, these details also would have been material to the council’s decision.

    After details of this industrial scale facility became apparent at your prior meeting, the community pushed the City Council to respond, and as a result on 14/02/2020 Counsellor David Baigent announced on Twitter that the Cambridge City Council had requested that you apply for a “certificate of ‘proposed lawful development’” with respect to the facility.
    1. Why were no further details of the full extent of the carriage wash facility provided in 18/1372/CAP18 or 18/5161PREAP, and the community not consulted? 
    2. Will GTR now comply with the request of the City Council to apply for a certificate or other instrument that specifically addresses the industrial train wash facility? If so, what is GTR’s timeline for submission? If not, what are GTR’s reasons for not applying?
  2. Site choice. GTR has not provided comprehensive details on the reason for choosing the site behind Great Eastern Street. The Great Eastern Street sidings are in the middle of a residential area, which is itself in the middle of a conservation area. Choosing to build an industrial scale train washing facility in such an area is a matter of choice.
    1. What are the assessment criteria for making such a choice?
    2. From what set of choices were the Great Eastern Street sidings chosen and why were the Great Eastern Street sidings chosen, with respect to the assessment criteria?
    3. Why was the community not consulted at the time of this choice?
    4. What information did GTR provide to the Ironworks development about the choice of this train wash development?
  3. Health impact. GTR has not provided comprehensive detail on the health impact of the train wash or reports on the lawfulness of this development with respect to environmental issues, such as the fact the site is an air quality management area. The train wash will spray chemicals onto trains and wash them off, to remove brake dust, dirt, and other substances. This is an intensive industrial washing process.
    1. What is the full list of products – actual or representative – that will be used and the chemicals therein?
    2. What is the full process involved washing one train, including but not limited to volumes of products, water, waste disposal, etc. in a facility of this kind?
    3. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the health impacts from chemical dispersal and pollution (in air, water, and soil) used in a facility of this kind?
    4. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the ability of, and health factors involved in, the local water and sewer system to cope with the waste disposal needs of a facility of this kind?
  4. Visual impact. GTR’s two presentations have provided few details on the visual impact of the train wash beyond some examples of similar train wash facilities and some visual mitigation. [UPDATE] On February 22 the BBC showed the first three images of the facility:
    1. Why did it take GTR at least two years to provide images of the facility?
    2. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the shadow to be cast by such a train wash, year round?
    3. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the visual impact of the train wash with respect to the surrounding conservation area?
  5. Noise and vibration impact. GTR has claimed that the noise of the train wash will be around 40db, approximately the volume of a quiet conversation, at the fence of the nearest property. However, GTR has not provided comprehensive details on the aggregation of noise from the washing equipment and train movements, nor on vibration.
    1. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed (e.g. in the manner of the Noise Action Plan: Railways) the combined noise of the washing process (in the trainwash and the pump room) and train movements, for this train wash in peak and non-peak times, and its effect on human, animal, and plant health?
    2. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the effects of vibration on the foundations or construction of nearby public and private and on human, animal, and plant health?
  6. Light impact. GTR has implied that the facility will be lit but has not provided comprehensive details on the amount and timing of light at the facility.
    1. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the impact of lighting the facility and its effect on human, animal, and plant health?
  7. Property value impact. Given all the above, the proposed train wash facility is likely to have a significant effect on property values in Great Eastern Street and the Ironworks, with knock-on effects into Romsey and Petersfield.
    1. Has GTR modelled, sought empirical examples of, or in any other way assessed the effect on property values of siting an industrial scale 12 carriage wash facility in the middle of a residential neighbourhood which is itself in the middle of a conservation area?
  8. Injury to the amenity of the neighbourhood. Given 2-7 the above, with respect to the proposed 12 carriage train wash facility, its pump room, carpark, and associated development, and the GDPO 2015, is it GTR and Spencer Group’s position that it is false that “the design or external appearance of any building or bridge would injure the amenity of the neighbourhood?”