Freight train damage ‘costing us millions’
MILLIONS of pounds worth of damage to buildings in Trowbridge and Bradford on Avon are being caused by freight trains, a local architect has claimed.
Martin Valatin, of St Margaret’s Hill, Bradford on Avon, believes that the vibrations caused by heavy freight trains have damaged the roof of County Hall, which had to be repaired in 2003 and then again in 2014/15, at a cost of more than £800,000.
Mr Valatin also believes that cracks visible in Holy Trinity Church in Bradford on Avon have been caused by the vibrations.
He argues that in order to reduce the damage, which he thinks is a problem across the country, the rail industry needs to slow the heavy freight trains down.
“Taxpayers’ money has been spent on repairs, when it could be put to better use and stop all the cuts that have been going on in Wiltshire. I suspect this is doing millions of pounds worth of damage to buildings,” he said.
“When I was teaching at the architectural department at Bath University in the 1990s, I got some engineering lecturers and students to look around around Bradford on Avon where these cracks had formed. They explained that vibrations from heavy freight trains could cause the damage, as the cracks are coming in the direction of the railway. They were in agreement that this was also the case at County Hall.
“When I spoke to Wiltshire Council I was told it was not politically expedient to criticise putting freight trains onto the railways.
“After it spent £500,000 repairing the roof in 2003, I was told the roof should hold for another 50 years but 11 years later a further £335,000 was spent on repairs again.
“This is Wiltshire Council’s own building and they are not taking these concerns seriously. A heap of money has been spent on this, which means less can be spent elsewhere, which is not ideal in times of austerity.
“These are humongous, 1,000-tonne machines that come whizzing along and something needs to be done. I have spoken to other engineers who say this is a national problem. The rail industry needs to look into it.”
A Wiltshire Council spokesman said: “The issues that required repairs to be made to the County Hall roof in 2015 had nothing to do with vibrations being caused by freight trains in the vicinity.
“The tiles on the roof slope delaminated due to a combination of factors including bad weather, particularly frost, and the overall poor quality of the stone used by the contractors when the roof was originally replaced in 2003. The original repairs were done because of the age of the roof. The issue of damage from freight train vibrations was not considered at that time.”