N, Q trains to cut noise at Ditmars

The N train rolls out of the Astoria Boulevard station.
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City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria) liked what he heard and so will pupils at an elementary school and untold numbers of passers-by at a subway stop in Astoria, where subway trains have been creating a deafening din for years.

What Vallone got was word from the Metropolitan Transportation Authority that it plans to install new technology on cars of the N and Q trains, the air brakes of which have signaled their arrival at the Ditmars Boulevard stop with deafening blasts.

The noise is produced when the conductor applies the emergency brake in order to walk to the other end of the platform to take the train in the opposite direction.

Vallone has been leading the fight against the disruptive noise since 2012, when the noise got even worse due to the fact that more cars were equipped with air brakes.

Last year, Vallone sent a letter to MTA Chairman Thomas Prendergast demanding that something be done about the disruptive noise, which on a scientific noise measurement is as loud as a jackhammer.

The MTA responded by sending its Car Equipment Division crew to inspect all track and subway equipment on the lines. The study discovered that the noise produced by the air brakes increases the area’s normal or ambient sound level by more than 10 decibels.

The good news arrived Monday when the MTA advised Vallone that it will begin installing what it calls “noise dampers” on all the cars on the N and Q lines. This technology will significantly reduce the noise level produced by the air brakes at the Ditmars Boulevard stop without affecting the ability of the train crew to hear the brakes being applied. The dampers will be added as the equipment comes in and will be completed within the next six months.

“The deafening noise has been scaring little kids, startling our senior citizens and damaging our ear drums for too long,” Vallone said.

“We commend the MTA for working to solve this problem and look forward to shopping, working and commuting near the Ditmars station without having this constant ‘ear sore’ above our heads.”

The noise also was a big negative at PS 85, near the stop.

School officials and the city Department of Education as well as parents had appealed for relief from the noise at the school.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

Updated 12:32 am, July 10, 2018
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