Jun 1 2012 by Johnathon Menzies, Stirling Observer Friday
RESIDENTS throughout the region have set up a special group to continue the fight against problems they say stem from the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine railway line.
Those who have consistently complained about sleep deprivation, potential health problems and the devaluation of properties as a result of freight trains thundering past their respective homes since the new part of the line was opened in 2008 have formed an action group.
Officebearers were appointed to the sub group during a meeting held at Stirling’s macrobert arts centre on Friday, May 18. Another gathering took place on Tuesday this week.
Chairman and Causewayhead resident Archie McIver explained to the Observer that the group’s aim was to hold the likes of Network Rail, Transport Scotland and Clackmannanshire Council – the bodies involved in the project – to account.
He said: “What we’re aiming to do is to create a register of the people who live next to the line, and others who want to get involved, as we’re looking into taking legal action as we see it as the only way forward.”
After being informed of the formation of the group, a Network Rail representative said: “Under the terms of our licence we must operate an open access railway and allow train operators to run any viable services. This is something that the builders and funders of the new railway would have been aware of when planning the line, and that council planners should have been aware of when granting planning permissions.
“Network Rail is administering compensation claims on behalf of Transport Scotland, but it is for Transport Scotland and Clackmannanshire Council to address issues raised about the original noise and vibration surveys, the public consultation and information provided to local residents as part of the Parliamentary bill process.”
A spokesperson for Scottish Government agency Transport Scotland declared: “The return of the rail service to Clackmannanshire has been a hugely positive development for the area.
“In the first year of operation, 400,000 passengers took advantage of the new service and the introduction of a peak hours service between Alloa and Edinburgh has been vital for commuters.”
She continued: “The environmental impact of any transport project is always an important consideration and concerns raised about noise levels around the service have been taken seriously.
“Clackmannanshire Council, Transport Scotland and Network Rail have worked together over recent months to provide acoustic barriers at properties that met noise mitigation criteria along the Stirling-Alloa-Kincardine route.
“Sixty-eight properties were offered acoustic barriers, and work is now complete, with residents advising they have noticed an improvement in noise levels.
“To ensure the matter has been fully resolved, Transport Scotland and Clackmannanshire Council have since commissioned property condition surveys and vibration reports to assess if any follow-up work is required.”
A spokesperson for Clackmannanshire Council echoed the views of her counterparts from both Network Rail and Transport Scotland.
She added: “Any owner of a house along the length of the line who considers that their property has been devalued as a result of the operation of the railway may be eligible for compensation under the Lands Compensation (Scotland) Act. Claims should be submitted to Network Rail, as the infrastructure operator. The onus will be on the owner to substantiate the claim.”
The Wee County local authority representative concluded: “We gave evidence to the Scottish Government’s Petitions Committee. Following this, the council supported the Minister for Housing and Transport [the now Clackmannanshire and Dunblane MSP Keith Brown] at a meeting he convened with the leaders of the rail industry and freight operators to request that they consider what steps could be taken to reduce night-time noise from the railway.”
Anyone wishing to join the grassroots campaign can email firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a message on 07948 471851.