back to article Screeching rails close London Tube station

The Central Line platforms at Bank Tube station were yesterday closed for 90 minutes during the rush hour following "complaints that decibel levels from screeching rails were too high", the Evening Standard reports. City lawyer John Cooper told the paper: "We were all thrown out of the station. A member of staff told me it was …


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  1. Anonymous Coward

    No wheels?

    "You have metal rails running on metal tracks"

    I'm no genius, but has anyone suggested using wheels,?

  2. Pete Silver badge

    couldn't have been that bad

    if the people on the platform could still hear the Tannoy - though if they could make out the words then there was definitely something wrong with their hearing.

    Next thing you know, they'll be closing tube platforms every time someone spots a rat on the tracks.

  3. Winkypop Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    That Stephenson was such a crank

    Imagine inventing a transport system that relies on metal-on-metal action?

    All those years it's been just fine, now this!

    I'd sue, if he were still alive.

    I'll bet if they put some leaves on the track that would fix it.

    Oh, it's underground - no leaves.

    That'll explain it.

  4. JP Jones


    I went through that station in the AM and the noise *WAS* significantly louder than normal - most people covering their ears as the trains came in. If it continued all day then maybe it did get to ear-bursting levels.

    Why TFL couldn't do something about it earlier in the day is the big question. Maybe they like punishing us commuters by making us suffer during rush hour?

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    i assume

    the lubrication isn't just to prevent noise, i'm sure all those people would have been ecstatic if not closing them down to lubricate the tracks resulted in some kind of accident killing hundreds. fucking morons.

  6. Bronek Kozicki
    Thumb Up

    Really, why everyone thinks ...

    ... that transporting people around London is a priority for Tube staff?

  7. Anonymous Coward

    makes sense

    The only reason health and safety does "go mad" is that we're becoming more and more litigious. The main complainant being a "city lawyer" is classic, the irony isn't lost on me.

  8. Ian Yates

    Health & Safety Gone Mad!

    Maybe I hold an unpopular view, but I disagree that this is OTT.

    In such an enclosed environment, and with such powerful machines thundering through, it's easy to understand why the dB(A?) levels need to be kept down.

    As someone who suffers from tinnitis (mildly, luckily), I don't think these people appreciate the damage that loud noises can do.

    Saying that, they don't say how loud it was, so it could be too cautious. I regular use Bank (Northern line) and find the screeching brakes unpleasantly loud - though I've never thought to complain or measure it.

  9. Code Monkey

    Health and safety gone mad

    Don't leave your homes. Ever.

    Stay inside away from the chavs/dangerous dogs/scary Tube noises.

    Stay inside and watch endless shite and insurance adverts on the telly.

    I swear I hate this island more and more each day.

  10. Martin

    *motorist stands corrected*

    I thought that closing vital transport links for flimsy reasons in the middle of rush hour was a Highways Agency speciality, but obviously I was wrong.

    Isn't there somewhere we can send the hi-vis wearing jobsworths who seem to have infected so many positions of responsibility? Can we use them in the military to infiltrate enemy infrastructure as some kind of 'impotence cannon'?

  11. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle


    How about a Playmobil mock up depicting the London Underground Lube Squad on the job?

  12. Eddie Edwards

    Reminds me of my workmate

    The fan on my workmate's GPU makes a lot of noise. I told him to replace the whole graphics card, but he hasn't, because it's his "rush hour" and deadlines are approaching.

    The likely consequences of this are obvious.

    Closing the tube because it's "just making a noise"? Yeah that's obviously stupid because bad noises NEVER indicate an imminent failure.

  13. Robert Ramsay

    to be honest...

    if they hadn't lubed up the tracks, the crappy old trains would probably have caught fire...

  14. Jamie Kephalas
    Paris Hilton

    Lube squad?

    Need I say more?

  15. Craig Poxon

    Metal rails on metal tracks?

    There's your problem mate. You wanna try running wheels on the rails or the tracks, not the rails on the tracks!

  16. Nigel Whitfield

    Squeal like a pig

    I came through there on the Central Line yesterday afternoon, a little before 4pm, and it was certainly pretty loud inside the carriage. It was certainly more prolonged and noticeable than usual, on the bendy bit between there and Liverpool St.

    Whether it was dangerously loud, I couldn't say from inside the train, but it was certainly irritatingly so. Reminded me of that bit in Deliverance...

  17. Steve

    In their defense

    Bank tube is on a very very tight angle, I'm guessing that too much friction could cause a derailment! What with the derailment on the DLR earlier that day perhaps they were a little nervous.

  18. Roy Stilling

    I've experienced this

    At Cannon Street on the District/Circle a couple of years ago and it really is excruciatingly loud. I certainly think there is an 'elf 'n safety issue for the platform staff who would be exposed a lot longer than passengers who are going to get on the next train.

  19. Gianni Straniero


    "You have metal rails running on metal tracks and they need lubrication."

    That's not how a railway works, though, is it?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Not Title

    No comment. the picture and article should speak for itself :)

  21. Joe

    Duh !

    The screaching rail is a SYMPTOM of a larger problem - lack of lubricant. This is a real safety issue. You idiots who complain about closing the lines becuase of screaching rails are clearly too stupid to be allowed any work which might involve sharp objects !

  22. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    business as usual

    Seems like business as usual in the capital of incompetence and nanny stateism where everything gets blown out of proportion by small men who feel that every minor issue they are dealing with is always the most important thing in the world, it might look crazy to an outsider but for a Londoner that's normal.

    I remember once the whole Hanger Lane roundabout closed during rush hour by the police because of some minor car accident between two cars, with only bodywork damage...

    No wonder I got fed up of it and moved far away from London!

  23. Mike Scott

    Walk up the road

    Bank is less than half a mile from St Paul's, also on the Central line. It may be mildly inconvenient for the Central line platforms to be closed, but it's hardly going to stop anyone from getting home.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Screeching at Bank

    The more usual screeching these days is the not unpleasant sounds of bankers haemorrhaging money.

    The tube's always squealed here due to the fairly sharp curve and paranoia about safety is clearly getting the better of TFL. The size of the gaps at Bank are probably more of a threat to human life than a decibel of two.

  25. Maverick

    It's the English language gone mad

    "It is health and safety gone mad."

    Adding 'gone mad' to the end of a sentence is almost as annoying as high rising terminal.

  26. Roger Jenkins

    The old days

    Back in the my old days as a Station Foreman with London Transport. We would have been expected to have a bucket of grease in store and nip down onto the tracks between trains and apply it. That, however was never as issue as we had wooden sleepers in those days.

    Yes Occupational Health and Safety has gone a bit far, but, if we had a passenger go under a train (one under). Our instructions were, do not contact emergency authorities, do not turn off the track power. Instead, go under the train and ascertain if the passenger were alive. If dead, drag the corpse (if possible) out from under the train and onto the platform. Then call emergency services. Why was of this so? To keep the trains running. Seemingly those silly interfering emergency services personnel would want to do stupid stuff like power the track down and use jacks to raise the train to get the corpse out and would take hours.

    There is a place for today's OCHS but I do agree, the smoke and mirrors mob go too far sometimes.

  27. Bruno Girin
    Thumb Down

    Bank rails

    To be honest, the screech from Central line tube trains at Bank is more than a mere annoyance. I've occasionally found is physically painful. On the other hand, they could have waited until after the rush hour to do that. Or before: it's a known problem so it's not as if it was a complete surprise.

  28. Nordrick Framelhammer

    Sqeaky lines?

    Sheesh, next thing you know trains will be stopping due to leaves on the lines!

    Oh, wait...

  29. Anonymous Coward


    Did they only talk to the Cooper family or something?

    Had I been there and been told that the station was being closed because it was too loud I'd be looking at filing charges as if the noise was too loud, clearly there's a quick buck there. Surely the lawyer must've thought of that!

  30. Roger Gann
    Thumb Down

    Nah, it was really really really loud .....

    Dunno about commuter Steve Cooper's auditory capabilities but judging by his comments I reckon he's a bit mutton. Either that or a lilly livered wuss. I was at Bank yesterday afternoon and the screeching was excruciatingly loud - so loud in fact that I had to put insert a digit or two in to my King Lears. Otherwise it was actually painful. So speaks a willing attendee at one of the loudest rock concerts ever, at Charlton in 1976 ....

  31. Dave Silver badge


    "You have metal rails running on metal tracks"

    I think you mean "wheels running on tracks"....maybe your network wouldn't be so shambolic if you had the faintest idea how it worked

  32. Richard

    What next

    next they'll be shutting all stations down at rush hour because the maximum train capacity has been reached. 1 in 1 out

    lol I'm so glad I dont use public transport to get around.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    Comments from the public

    Im sure they did think it was stupid, but are there any issues about overheating, vibration, wear an tear etc that means leaving it "broken" is not a good idea.

    Would they take the same approach if the lift cables at work were making a lot of noise?

    You would be amazed (or not) at amount of kit have had to bin over the years, or pay lots of money to get fixed because various people ignored it squeaking, smoking, clicking, crunching etc "because they were too busy/in a hurry"

  34. Richard
    Paris Hilton


    Does anyone know what dB level the H&S freaks deem to loud and what level was achieved from the tracks?

    Paris, coz she can screech quite loudly.

  35. Tim Spence

    Appears stupid

    Yes, on the face of it, it appears stupid and over-reactionary, but what about if they left it and some sue-happy-American waiting at the station successfully sued TFL for damaging their hearing?

    Health and safety has gone mad, because of the blame and compensation culture which is starting to win over this side of the pond.

    You could argue that that is a ridiculous suggestion, and they should have used common sense, but I wouldn't want to be the person who has to potentially put my neck and job on the line, and make that decision.

  36. muttley


    Been a while since I commuted to (or even lived in) London, but for anyone who hasn't used the Central Line @ Bank, the rail screech is SERIOUSLY PAINFULLY loud either in the carriage or on the platform, caused by the short-radius curved tracks.

    Should've handed out earplugs.

  37. Roland

    Think about the ears!

    Well, I can imagine how that screeching would hurt your hearing. Having traveled on the BART in San Francisco daily for a couple of weeks, it definitely helped wearing earplugs for parts of the trip. Man, what a noise...

    I know that in Amsterdam they experimented with setting up irrigation systems next to the tracks, to keep the tracks wet. Less screeching that way. Not sure if that was a permanent solution, though.

  38. Anthony Steele

    Dangerous noise levels

    The London Underground will have to face up sooner or later to the way that that some sections of track do generate unsafe levels of noise, and so expose a large and captive audience to potential hearing damage. It's a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  39. Richard Thomas


    "We closed the platforms because passengers were reporting that they could hear a loud screeching sound. It does happen from time to time."

    From time to time? I used to work in the City and live in Mile End, and heard that noise EVERY time I got the tube from Bank. It's an inherent "undocumented feature" of the fact that the Central Line platforms are on a tight bend.

    Where's the "muppet" icon? I'll just have to choose the one that looks closest...

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A Lack Of Lubrication?

    There's a lube joke there somewhere but I haven't had enough tea today to get my sense of humour working

  41. Jimmy Floyd
    Thumb Up

    I'm with London Underground (amazingly)

    The rails at Bank are on a sharp curve, accentuating any noise. And, frankly, I've thought before that the noise down here was way, way too loud and high-pitched. I'll take the Tube's side on this one (despite my difficult journey to work this morning!)

  42. Frostbite
    Paris Hilton

    Rails & Tracks

    Quote "...metal rails run on metal tracks..."

    It just sets the expected IQ levels when the staff don't know how their trains operate.

    I always thought that metal wheels ran on the metal tracks.

  43. Tony
    IT Angle

    Disaster looms

    The rails and the wheels meet as 2 metal surfaces. As they heat up, eventually, the two surfaces could bind together. So you have a delay for 90 minutes, or wait until they become unusable and then the line is out of action for a couple of days / weeks, whilst they replace them both. So make the choice - which would you rather have?

    (That's assuming of course that it doesn't cause an accident, kill 60-80 people, in which case it might be closed for a bit longer. )

    Yes I know that a lot of people were late home - poor things. But at least you do have access to a public transport system. Where I live, there are 2 buses a day - one up in the morning, one down in the afternoon. It's five miles (yes miles) to the next bus stop.

    Now of course, that doesn't excuse TfL; they should be better organised. But people get very complacent - far too many are happy to complain when things don't quite right, but they complain even loader when they go horribly wrong. And the loudest complaints come from those that wouldn't know the first thing about a trackway.

    (From an ex-member of a volunteer Permanent Way gang, 1995-2001. Respects to Foggy, David H, Julie, the Padre and the rest of the crew. See you all in the chapel of the blessed Lethbridge again one day)

  44. Anonymous Coward

    Metal rails running on metal tracks?

    Or does he mean metal wheels running on metal tracks?

    I thought rails and tracks were the same thing, even in your version of English.

    (You might as well speak French with all those extra letters that you don't pronounce. Labour, harbour, cheque, colour, etc.)

  45. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Steve Cooper - ignorant

    Obviously he doesn't have tinnitus and is ignorant to the fact that certain pitched sounds for a long duration or at an elevated volme and/or very loud noise can make the tinnitus very bad for anywhere from an hour to an entire day, tiredness really doesn't help either. The only true rest from tinnitus a sufferer has is when they're asleep.

    Even if you don't have tinnitus (or have it so mild you don't even know) then for some people certain high pitched loud sounds (like screeching wheels on tracks) can still be extremely unpleasant, especially if you're tired.

  46. Dark Ian
    Jobs Halo


    And just what was Stephen rushing home to? Eastenders and the sofa probably. Why is that commuters get so anxious and upset when their routine is broken? I rode the Tube immediate before and after the bungled 21/7 attacks, and it was a real adventure! Something different for a change!

    Jobs, eh?

  47. Steve

    That'll teach 'em

    They won't complain again!

  48. Ian Ferguson


    In response to the commuter's question, because the last thing they'd need is somebody suing them for damage to their hearing. Decibel limits are set for a good reason.

  49. Red Bren

    Pedants' corner

    "You have metal rails running on metal tracks and they need lubrication."

    Are they using some kind of sledge on the underground now, in case of snow?

  50. Anonymous Coward

    A lawyer?

    Probably one of the first to sue if they had NOT been chucked out. "The screeching has left me with life-style damaging tinnitus your honour. I request £10,000,000 in compensation for my future suffering and loss of income".

    Lawyers are parasites on the face of humanity.

  51. Kati

    New Agency?

    Wouldn't you like to be part of the emergency lube squad? ELS emblazoned on your uniform..Motto: ELS. We do the lube, so you can ride the tube.

    If it'd been New York, officials would have told the complainers, if there were any, to suck it up, take the bus, or pay for a taxi...

  52. Ste Mansfield
    Paris Hilton

    London Lube Station

    Could they have commendeered Pairs Hilton from her BBF show, got her to straddle the tracks and push her along a bit to get things going

  53. Anonymous Coward

    More to this than noise!!

    As a dry unlubricated rail on a sharp curve can lead to a RISK of "flange climb" and derailment !

  54. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    >You have metal rails running on metal tracks and they need lubrication.<

    I think that should be 'metal wheels running on metal tracks'. If I recall correctly there is a tightish bend at Bank and presumably the flange lubricators had run dry.

  55. Martin Lyne

    Much better..

    Much better to have run it without lubricant for a while, causing the wheels to lock or a train to derail and block the station for hours or days, anda few deaf station workers.. pah. I MUST GET HOME!

    If only people thought past the immediate me/location interface..

  56. Gavin Pearce

    Ha ha ha ha ha ha

    Ha ha ha ha ha

    ha ha ha

    ha ha

  57. Mat Diss


    "After a hard day at work all you want to do is get home" - don't they have pubs in that area??

    Mines the one with the earplugs.

  58. The Fuzzy Wotnot

    Really news?

    They've always screeched at Bank! I can't remember a time when they haven't and I've been going through there for the last 25 years or so.

  59. Gavin Pearce

    and ha

    and ha

  60. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    from a central driver

    bank station is located on a very tight bend and has to be constantaly greased to stop the horrible skreeching noise, but bank wasnt the ony station on my line last night just the worst. the station was closed as the noise WAS TOO HIGH, and in the day of constant litigation my company went with the guide lines for noise levels and shut the station. this also gave the staff the chance to get on the track without risk to the public so the line could be re instated much quicker. whilst this was happening the line was suspended for a short while in both directions, closing bank was a essential to prevent over crowdwing to protect the public from falling onto the tracks as no train could be brought into the platform whilst the greasing was done - trains were held in platforms either side whilst this happened - there is method to the madness if you look closely enough, before the greasing was complete trains had to run though the area at reduced speed - Automatic Train Operation was supended though the area causing yet more delays and over crowding - if they had ran full speed more noise would have been generated and without lubrication who knows what damage to the rails or trains could have occured....... need i say more...

    sorry has to anonymously

  61. Schultz
    Thumb Up

    After a hard day at work all you want to do is get home

    Thus said the lubrication team and made sure they were in the first train after smooth operation had been restored.

  62. Chris Hunt

    Oh the Horror...

    Londoners forced to undertake 10 minute walk to the next station along the line.

  63. Nigel Callaghan

    Hang on....

    I thought that with smooth-metal-on-smooth-metal the traction relied on a dry contact, and the last thing they needed was lubrication? Weren't the old 'leaves on the track' a problem as the wheels slipped on them and couldn't get traction?

    I'm confused.

  64. Matt Eagles

    How bad can it be?

    "How bad can it possibly be to disrupt thousands of people on their way home during rush hour?" Asked the angry city jerk.

    I wonder if it drifted into his mind that unlubricated and unmaintained tracks might have consequences such as derailments and crashes, which would tend to make you very late indeed.

  65. Anonymous Coward


    The rails this time? It's usually "overcrowding", which really means "we're too incompetent to run a decent service"

    I'll get me <cloned> oyster card...

  66. greg

    I was on the train when they closed it

    Fuck me was the screeching loud - I had to block my ears. Can only imagine what it was like for people on the platform.

    It's because Bank has a curved platform and the trains dont like going anywhere but straight. So they have to use guide rails, which need lubrication.

  67. Tim Schomer

    One reason they closed it in rush hour...

    ... could be so they didn't have to pay overtime to the cleaners^h^h^h^h^h^h^h^h engineers.

    / The one with the earplugs please...

  68. Anonymous Coward
    Jobs Horns

    Talk about late arrivals

    They must be joking. Tubes have been absolutely painful to listen to around that corner where the platform is for as long as I can remember. I remember standing there about 15 years ago when a train came around fast and I had to put my fingers in my ears (along with most other passengers) and it still literally gave me a headache for the rest of the day.

    I don't know what's more annoying, some fool suddenly notining it now and disrupting everyone's journey, or the fact it's taken them decades and probably many thousands of complaints to realise.

  69. Don Sinclair

    Stealth and Safety!

    What's the difference between a lawyer and a plaice?

    One's a scum sucking bottom dweller, the other one's a fish!

    You have to watch this health and safety, it creeps up on you. As a health and safety consultant I have undertaken a risk assessment on behalf of London Underground.

    1. Hazards - Noise, people (some of them cokernies) Trains, electric, those little black mice that entertain the folks waiting for delayed trains.......erm chance of getting a boner while crushed up against a blonde nimphette dressed in a red leather toga during rush hour

    2. Risk - A lawyer/solicitor spotting any of the above - or a stealth and safety anorak spotting one of the above and passing this information to the aforementioned.

    3. Persons at risk - who gives a shit about anybody else anyway? - no fucker on the tube!

    4. Risk Factor - Off the dial

    5. Controls to adopt. in order to avoid having anything to do with lawyers et all Take a bike.....oh no traffic/falling the muslims might blow it up.......walk.......muggers........astral you are just being stupid.........Oh bollocks to this I'm moving to Shropshire!!!!

  70. Chris Young
    Paris Hilton

    Lucky b**tards ..

    at least they bother to lube the rails in London. On the trains around the MiseryRail network up here, they can't be arsed, so we all get to go deaf as we trundle through the tunnel loop, stuck to our chewing-gum covered seats.

    Mind you, they frequently can't be arsed running the trains either, especially on the Wirral Line, so that tends to keep the noise down a bit.

    Her Ladyship, because even she could run a rail service better than MerseyRail, and she certainly wouldn't be tight with the lube ...

  71. b166er


    The emergency lube squad came over the tannoy - fnnaaaappppp

    Sorry, mines the mac

  72. Bad Beaver


    Brilliant, they should tell the public transport guys here in Hamburg about that concept. The screeching is a major pain at times, and in the underground stations it is painful. Go lubricate that!

  73. TeeCee Gold badge
    IT Angle

    @Eddie Edwards

    "The fan on my workmate's GPU makes a lot of noise."

    Possible cause: Imminent fan failure.

    Much more likely cause: He's got an nVidia GPU.......

  74. Joe Greene
    Dead Vulture

    Noise=Flying Sledgehammer of doom...

    Noise indicates Vibration which generates Heat.... to muchof that and metal warps.. then you get things flying off tracks at speed and now you have a multi-tonne flying sledgehammer of doom. Anyone wanna play?

  75. Anonymous Coward


    I wouldn't be in ANY hurry to get to there!

    Despite being only 4 miles away I haven't been to Central Bas for some years.

    Screeching...yes that station is always noisy. Then again the whole tube is squalid, noisy smelly and over crowded. Try the Paris Metro - it's fantastic. The trains run on rubber tyres I think. Cheap -efficient...if only I could commute from there!

  76. Sceptical Bastard

    40 years...

    ... since I first started regularly travelling on the Central from Snaresbrook to the west end (and, later, from Liverpool St to Holborn) and the flanges always squealed at Bank. And if one was stood by the connecting door with the window down, it was often finger-in-the-ear loud, painfully loud. The difference is that back then nobody gave a shit if the passengers went deaf whereas today, they're scared shitless of being sued.

    You'd think, given that section of line opened in about 1900, they'd have the problem licked by now. Surely there must be a better answer than smearing KY on the railhead.

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