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‘Intrusive noise in Thanington near Canterbury is every 15 minutes for 16 hours a day!’

Distressed residents have told how an “intrusive” railway siren placed close to their homes is making their lives a constant misery.

The crossing’s noisy alarm is forcing people to keep windows shut, even in sweltering heat, say neighbours in Thanington, near Canterbury.

Designed as a warning for pedestrians, the alert rings out regularly as trains thunder through the Tonford Lane foot crossing near Hambrook Marshes.

Complaining the new system has left them sleep deprived, residents have branded the noise an “intrusion on their peace and quiet”.

One neighbour says it sounds every 15 minutes from 5am until 9pm.

Another, Kate Scott, whose garden faces the crossing, says the claxon and a new traffic light system have been “horrendous” since they were installed last weekend.

“I had to shut the windows on Wednesday as a train came through at 12.50am, and the following morning one woke me up at 5.20am,” the 52-year-old said.

The crossing in Tonford Lane, Thanington, near Canterbury
The crossing in Tonford Lane, Thanington, near Canterbury

“It goes into a quieter setting at about 8pm in the evening, which is bearable, but in the morning it is back at full volume.”

Ms Scott says multiple trains go through every hour - with the alarm sounding each time - causing “severe interruption” to her sleep.

“It is like a car alarm going off outside your home,” she added.

“The alarm is louder than the [noise of the] trains as you get used to them, as it is gentle and low.”

Ms Scott says on Monday she closed the doors and windows of her home, but the alarm still drowned out the sound of her TV.

Martin Flay described the new system as ‘intrusive’
Martin Flay described the new system as ‘intrusive’

Yet it is not just the noise causing issues for her.

“The light shines straight into our houses,” she said.

“It is very luminous and it lights up the back of our houses.

“I appreciate there needs to be one there, but it should be angled down so a pedestrian can see it.”

Nearby residents describe the area near the Great Stour as ‘peaceful’
Nearby residents describe the area near the Great Stour as ‘peaceful’

Neighbour Chris Sparks says there was no warning the alarm was going to be installed.

“It is really disturbing the peace and quiet,” the 67-year-old said.

“I understand there might be partially sighted people who need to cross, but it is in a semi-rural position and it seems over the top.

“It is waking up a lot of working men and women who don’t need to be hearing it at those times of the day.”

Mr Sparks says his home, which overlooks the Great Stour and Hambrook Marshes, was “really peaceful and quiet” before.

The crossing in Tonford Lane, Thanington
The crossing in Tonford Lane, Thanington

“I don’t know what problem it is the solution to,” the former police officer said.

“A mile away at Whitehall Road there is another level crossing which has smaller lights and no claxon, so I don’t know what’s different here.”

There have been a couple of tragic incidents at the crossing in recent years.

In 2017 a 21-year-old man died after he was hit by a train, while in 2014 a 36-year-old man lost his life at the crossing.

Chris Sparks says the area was “really peaceful and quiet” before
Chris Sparks says the area was “really peaceful and quiet” before

Debbie Scott supports improving safety measures at the site but does not believe the loud alarm is necessary.

“If they could turn it down a bit, it wouldn’t be so bad,” the 58-year-old said.

“I understand it and I’m not against having it there, as I have grandchildren.

“We have lived here for nine years and there has never been anything like it before.

“I can’t imagine the noise would be good for the wildlife.”

Martin Flay supports having a traffic light system, but does not understand the need for an alarm.

Sue Flay has been forced to sit inside despite the hot weather
Sue Flay has been forced to sit inside despite the hot weather

“After 27 years of living here with it being nice and peaceful, they have decided to put the system in,” the 65-year-old said.

“I can understand it as there is a fruit farm nearby which hires migrant workers and they use the line regularly.

“Whether they understand the signs or not, I don’t know.

“It is a complete intrusion on our privacy.”

Meanwhile, his wife, Sue Flay, says Network Rail did not inform them or other residents about the system being installed.

She says she has been forced inside her home - closing windows and doors on warm days.

“I react to high-pitched noises, which is why me and my granddaughter are inside at the moment,” the 64-year-old said.

“I get very annoyed. They say about the woke society, but it’s intrusive.

“It’s every 15 minutes, but sometimes it’s more – I understand the traffic light system, but not the noise.”

A Network Rail spokesperson said: “We have recently installed a miniature stop light system at Tonford Lane level crossing in Thanington to make it safer for users of this level crossing.

“Previously, train drivers would blow their whistle when passing whistle boards to notify level crossing users of an approaching train, however these have now been removed meaning that the trains no longer blow their horns in this area.

“This new enhanced system is safer and gives users an audible and visual warning when it is safe to cross and is necessary due to the crossing having insufficient sighting of trains due to a curve in the track. This level crossing is also used by a large number of vulnerable users meaning a longer warning time is required.

“We are sorry to hear the audible warning level is disturbing nearby residents and our teams will be visiting the level crossing next week to reduce the sound level.”

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