Lisa Summers of London is fed up with idling Via Rail trains just a short distance from her Clarence Street home on Thursday August 23, 2012.
Credits: MIKE HENSEN/QMI AGENCY
Her home was a perfect place for Summers, recently retired by a disability, to relax and cope with an ailing back, with help from a home-care worker.
Sandwiched between an empty lot and a storage building at Bathurst and Clarence streets, sharing the street with five other houses, it's a sanctuary she seldom leaves.
But a few weeks ago, trains began idling at all hours at the Via Rail station about 100 metres away -- and she stopped sleeping.
"I can't go out because of my disability. This is really affecting me. I haven't slept in weeks," said the 53-year-old woman.
"It all started a few weeks ago with the cuts to Via Rail."
Summers said Friday nights are the worst. Trains stop in the station about 1 a.m. and sit, diesels idling noisily, for five hours or so awaiting morning departures.
"I can't believe they're just letting them run overnight, using up all that fuel," she said.
Summers said she's contacted Via and pleaded with the railways to install another power cable so trains can kill their noisy engines and plug in overnight. But each time, she's been told "that's just the way it is" or "we'll get back to you in October," she said.
Dean Harrison, Summers' landlord, said the place used to be "heaven on Earth."
Two years ago, they ran into a noise problem when a brick wall separating the rails from the street was replaced with a chain-link fence, but it was quickly solved when a cable was installed for trains to plug into, he said.
Harrison said he's tried contacting Via, too, but can't get a straight answer.
"We know it can be done," he said. "Last time, it only took about a week and a half to put the cable in."
Since railways fall under federal jurisdiction, there's nothing the City of London can do, said bylaw manager Orest Katolyk.
Katolyk said the city bylaw limiting noise after 11 p.m. targets events like concerts in residential neighbourhoods, not trains.
With no other options, Summers is hoping media coverage may help her plight.
"I'm really stuck. I don't want to have to move," she said, fearing the situation will worsen when seasons change and she can't get out at all. "What the heck am I going to do in the winter?"