A government panel Friday ordered Odakyu Electric Railway Co. to pay 34 people living near the carrier’s line a total of 9.56 million yen in compensation for noise pollution.
The Environmental Disputes Coordination Commission ordered Odakyu to pay the residents, who suffer noise of 70 decibels or more, between 144,000 yen and 318,000 yen each.
Friday’s ruling was the first on noise pollution involving railways other than bullet train lines. The commission’s decision will stand unless either the residents or Odakyu files a lawsuit within 30 days.
A total of 224 residents in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward had demanded the company pay them each 500,000 yen for the noise they suffered from the trains.
Originally, 325 filed the case in May 1992, seeking 500,000 yen each in compensation, after Odakyu announced it would construct a 6.4-km elevated line between Umegaoka and Kitami stations in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward.
The commission has held 27 sessions since the case was filed, and conducted field studies in the neighborhood in question. The number of claimants decreased after some residents withdrew their demands and others accepted a mediation plan presented by the panel in April.
The Environmental Agency-set standard for shinkansen noise is 70 dB in residential areas. It has also instructed railroads to keep daytime noise under 60 dB on lines constructed after 1995.
The Odakyu Line operates between Tokyo’s Shinjuku Station, and Katase and Odawara stations in Kanagawa Prefecture. The noise pollution along the line dates back about 40 years, when the railway started modernizing its system.
Teruko Miyakawa, 65, and other representatives of the residents said the noise problem became acute around 1957, when neighbors along the tracks complained of sleeplessness because of the vibration from passing trains. Cracks also appeared in the walls of their homes.
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