Make some noise: Quash the trainwash

What was that noise?

Residents of Romsey and Cambridge were rudely awakened by piling work reaching over 89 decibels at 4:30am this morning. See the video in the tweet below. This was just the first of many nights of work to come in a project run by NetworkRail, GTR, Greater Anglia, and Spencer Group, to build an enormous industrial trainwash immediately behind Great Eastern Street. Sign and share our petition at

There is a lot more building noise to come

GTR have said publicly in a leaflet (which was only distributed to small number of residents) that more work will happen on the nights of July 18 & 23. They also wrote privately to one resident specifying many more nights and days of work throughout all July and August.

On the 12th and 19th July the works will run from Midnight to 06:30. Early Sunday morning on the 12th we will be installing a new steel pile and steel structure in the location shown on the plan. We are also removing the wires to the North Sidings. On the following two Saturday nights/Early Sunday mornings we are carrying out modification works to the existing overhead wires mainly around the headshunt area. On Sunday 23d August the works will again start at midnight on the 23rd to 06:30. These works have to take place between midnight and 06:30 as this is the only time that Network Rail can turn off the electricity to the overhead wires. On Sunday 26th July the works will be in the daytime – 0800 to 1800 and likewise for Sunday 2nd August, 9th August and 6th August.

And that’s still not all. All is just enabling work for the trainwash itself – a ~33m long, ~9m high, ~7m wide building full of machinery that will operate 24/7/365, primarily between the hours of 1800 and 0600, with peak hours between 2300 and 0400. The machinery itself will create noise and there will also be considerable noise from up to four trains an hour will passing through it. The noise will never end.

The work does not have a Certificate of Lawful Development

Not only is this building and then operating noise never going to end, but the Cambridge City Council agrees with residents’ legal opinion that the entire project does not fit the definition of Permitted Development (see our legal opinion and the CCC’s agreement). Network Rail failed to seek Prior Approval in the form of a Certificate of Lawful Development.

An industrial trainwash does not belong in a residential area

Residents of Great Eastern Street and the wider community have been fighting for the railway companies to undergo a full planning process for a facility that may become the primary washing point for trains in East Anglia just 25m behind homes. Little meaningful consideration has been taken for the health and amenity of residents on the street or the wider community. We are not anti-rail. We depend on the railway, choose to live near it, and would be content for it to continue as is. Our concern is for the industrial scale of this proposed facility and where it could be appropriately situated.

What can you do?

Make one or more noise complaints

Let the CCC know about the disturbance and that GTR and Spencer should be fully aware of the consequences of contravening the regulations concerning noise disturbance to residents by construction work during unsociable hours.

When it happens at night again:

Immediately call the Cambridge City Council out of hours noise complaint number: 0300 303 8389

Complain about the ongoing noise problems:

Email the Cambridge Out of hours environmental health team

Email the manager of environmental health services

Email the contractor, Spencer Group, attn Diane Rowe (you can also try calling 01482 766340 but the number may not work)

Email the developer, GTR, attn Chris Penn and Steve Lammin

Help us complain about building an industrial trainwash in a residential area

Email the contractor, Spencer Group, attn Diane Rowe (you can also try calling 01482 766340 but the number may not work)

Write to the developer, GTR, attn Chris Penn and Steve Lammin

Publicise the problem on Twitter using #quashthetrainwash