Residents of Walden Way were shocked last week when Metronet arrived to clear the railway embankment behind their houses of vegetation. Local councillors Joyce Ryan, Brian Lambert and Glen Corfield, sprang into action, demanding that the work be stopped to allow consultation with householders. After several days the workmen departed leaving an unsightly mess reminiscent of a cleared Amazonian rain forest.
Mrs Partridge lives in the house that backs onto the line. Without the trees the noise from passing trains has become unbearable. as the trains rumble slowly past, complete strangers enjoy a birds eye view of her back garden and tantalising glimpses into the neighbours' private rooms. "It's like being naked." she explained when I met her this morning.
London Underground claim they needed to do the work for safety reasons and, not being an engineer, who am I to contradict them? Clearly if the Central Line loop was unable to run, that would be a huge inconvenience for thousands of local people. Equally, if a train did come off the line here, the consequences could be catastrophic.
The engineers plan to build the embankment up, reducing the gradient of the slopes. The whole thing will then be shored up by a concrete platform at the base and landscaping work will help to remediate the site.
By any standard this could have been done better. Mrs Partridge received a letter dated 12th March, advising her that work would begin on 9th March, three days earlier! Evidently, London Underground were not prepared to discuss the project or explain it's significance to local people.
Well, it's done now, and weeks of heavy engineering work lie ahead. This must be conducted sensitively, to minimise disruption for residents.
Upon completion, the embankment should be replanted with trees as well as the promised shrubs, although it will take decades to return to its former state.
And finally, London Underground should provide an opaque screen along the line, to reduce noise and to preserve the privacy of the houses next to the track.