Noisy train pesters neighbours

Via Rail parks its passenger train next to downtown Halifax apartments.

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Amal Ghazal on her balcony. The train is behind the trees.
  • Amal Ghazal on her balcony. The train is behind the trees.

“When I was shown this place, I was told there are cruise ships and trains,” says Amal Ghazal of her Barrington Street apartment. “I thought, that’s nice. I want to live in a busy city, with lots going on. But I didn’t expect this.”

“This” is the Via train parked across the street from her apartment building, all night long, with the the engine running to keep the air brakes on. Via started parking the train there about five years ago, says Ghazal’s downstairs neighbour, Robert Donovan. And since the recent schedule change the train has been adjacent to the residential area 100 hours or more each week.

“Summer is bad, because you can’t sleep with the windows open,” says Ghazal. She says a black soot covers her balcony and furniture. “At Christmastime, they left the train here the entire time, a week.”

When The Coast observed it last Sunday, the train engine was parked immediately atop the pedestrian tunnel across from Ghazal’s and Donovan’s building. The engine was so loud it was impossible to have a normal conversation on the street. Tuesday, the train was closer to the station, and less loud inside Ghazal’s apartment, but still annoying. When Ghazal closed her windows, the sound was somewhat muffled but even more unsettling.

It is exactly the arbitrariness of the noise that is most disturbing, says Donovan. “Last night, they turned it off at 8:30, but then they turned it back on at 1am.” They move the train around, he says, so there doesn’t appear to be any reason why it has to be next to the apartments. “They could move it 200 meters down and it’d be in an industrial area.”

Via has been unresponsive to their complaints, says Donovan. The company also did not return a call from The Coast.

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