Tram bells silenced as residents angered by noise

Gordon Renton says the constant 'ding' of tram bells is annoying West End residents. Picture: Toby Williams
Gordon Renton says the constant 'ding' of tram bells is annoying West End residents. Picture: Toby Williams
55
Have your say

TRAM drivers have been told to silence their bells while passing through the West End after residents complained the constant ‘ding ding’ was driving them mad.

Bosses have ordered trams to travel through the Torphichen Street and Palmerston Place junction without sounding the alert, with drivers told only to ding when absolutely necessary.

It comes after a raft of complaints from residents about the regular ringing which starts with the first tram at 5.30am and continues until the last service at midnight.

During training, drivers were told to use the distinctive electronic bell to signal the tram’s presence along the route, although residents complained the ringing continued even when the streets were deserted. West End Community Council chairman Gordon Renton, who lives around 100 yards from the West End stop, said: “It is being used regularly and does not serve a legitimate purpose for tram or road safety.

“It is very loud and very annoying for all residents who live within a considerable distance of the lines.

“I can hear the bell in my sitting room every time the tram passes the junction.

“As there is no-one on the track and all traffic is stopped, what is the legitimate point of announcing to the public that the tram is in the area?

“No-one can run and make it to the stop on time. It serves no purpose.”

Long-time tram critic Grant McKeeman, of Copymade, whose West Maitland Street shop sits directly beside the line, said: “It’s a right pain in the backside. There is no need for it at all, it’s constant throughout the day.

“I can’t understand why the drivers have to ring the bell so frequently.”

It is understood that drivers have now been instructed not to sound the bell as a matter of course in the West End and instead only use it or the tram horn when necessary to warn passengers or to clear traffic.

The decibel level of the city’s tram bell is a relatively modest 72db – similar to the noise of a vacuum cleaner – and is somewhat quieter than the Nottingham tram bell which has been registered at 80db and the Luas tram bell in Dublin which is 82db.

Simon Johnston, editor of Tramways and Urban Transit magazine, said: “I haven’t heard of this issue in regards the tram bell being sounded so frequently in other cities such as Sheffield, Manchester or Nottingham. Obviously the drivers are using it as a more gentle way of alerting road users to an approaching tram, but the problem is that if you use it too often people become used to it and then ignore it.”

A spokeswoman for Transport for Edinburgh said: “Safety is our number one priority at Transport for 
Edinburgh.

“We train our drivers to the highest standards and trust them to use their judgement based on the conditions around them.

“Our ongoing driver training assessments are carried out regularly and review all of their driving techniques including the use of the bell and 
horn.”

Last month we told how the tram public address system at the Saughton stop was to be placed under curfew after residents complained the regular announcements could be heard 200 yards away, with a constant loop repeating every few minutes from the first service of the day.