'Our house smells of diesel, and that’s with our windows shut' - Angry neighbours demand action over Edinburgh train depot pollution

Gavin Corbett at Slateford DepotGavin Corbett at Slateford Depot
Gavin Corbett at Slateford Depot
Neighbours of an Edinburgh train depot say the noise and air pollution coming from the depot has left them unable to sleep and left their homes stinking of diesel.

Residents who live in Shandon, which borders the National Rail depot at Slateford, say they have been ‘fobbed off’ by the train operator, and that the response from Edinburgh City Council has been ‘shockingly poor’.

Videos and photos taken by residents show plumes of exhaust fumes rising from the depot, and audio recordings taken with the videos demonstrate the level of noise caused by train engines being left to idle day and night.

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Kirsty Stewart, who lives with her husband and eighteen-month-old son in a property bordering the depot, said: “The problem we have is that the yard has been there since I moved in, but the activity that is being carried out there has been increasing and the number of locomotives that idle there, for days on end, is pretty much intolerable.

“It’s at the point where it’s seriously impacting the level of amenity we have in our home, the level of pollution is scary.

“Our house smells of diesel, and that’s with our windows shut.

“We’ve had people from the council in and they said they could smell it as soon as they turned onto Shaftesbury Park.

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“The noise from the idle engines is like having a lorry parked right outside of your home all day and night.

“They also have these horns that are like klaxons that go off during the day, and there’s industrial noise at night. It happens all hours, both during the day and through the night.”

“We’ve complained directly to National Rail who have fobbed us off saying the matter is now closed.”

Fountainbridge and Lockhart councillor Gavin Corbett, Green Party, has been lobbying National Rail, and the council, on behalf of residents.

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He said: “I'm angry at how dismissive National Rail has been both to residents' concerns and when I and fellow councillors have asked them to account for their activity.

"Diesel is a dirty and outdated fuel which is why, internationally, there has been such focus on phasing out diesel vehicles."

He said the firm should measure and reduce pollution.

National Rail has said the engines are kept running to power onboard systems during mandatory safety checks.

A spokesperson said: “Slateford yard is a key base for our fleet of autumn treatment trains which operate across Scotland’s railway from October to November, clearing leaves and other debris from the tracks.

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“These trains operate around-the-clock and are vital to helping keep the railway safe during autumn as leaf debris can cause train wheels to lose their grip and slip on the track.

“We understand the short-term disruption this activity can cause to some of our lineside neighbours and do try to minimise disruption as much as possible.”

The spokesperson also said the train horn is used at night to warn staff that trains are about to depart, and to test the horns.

An Edinburgh City Council spokesman said complaints are being investigated: “We have limited powers available however we will continue our discussions with the residents and Network Rail to seek an improvement to the current situation which is as a result of seasonal maintenance work.”

Joseph Anderson, Local Democracy Service

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