Decision No. 51-R-2017
 Desmond McComish filed an application with the Canadian Transportation Agency (Agency) against Metrolinx concerning noise arising from the Union Pearson Express (UP Express) train service at the Bloor Station. More specifically, Mr. McComish alleges that the noise caused by the ringing of bells on trains is excessive and causes physical, financial, mental and emotional harm, as well as damage to community life.
 For the reasons set out below, the Agency finds that Mr. McComish has failed to discharge his burden of providing sufficient evidence to prove, on a balance of probabilities, substantial interference with the ordinary comfort or convenience of living, according to the standards of the average person. As such proof is required to satisfy the initial step in the analysis of noise and vibration applications, the Agency dismisses the application.
 Metrolinx is an agency of the Government of Ontario which, in 2009, assumed responsibility for the GO Transit system, the regional transit system in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, Ontario.
 UP Express is a transit service offered by Metrolinx. It is an express rail shuttle providing service between the Union Station in downtown Toronto and the Toronto Pearson International Airport. The Bloor Station is located in proximity to the intersection of Bloor and Dundas Streets in Toronto.
- Does the noise caused by the ringing of bells on the Metrolinx UP Express trains at the Bloor Station constitute substantial interference?
- If so, is Metrolinx meeting its obligation pursuant to section 95.1 of the CTA to cause only such noise and vibration as is reasonable, taking into account its level of service obligations, its operational requirements and the local area?
 The Agency applies a two-part test when evaluating a noise and vibration application.
 The first part of the test relates to “substantial interference” with the ordinary comfort or convenience of living, according to the standards of the average person. It requires the Agency to determine whether the applicant has established that they experience substantial interference caused by the noise and/or vibration that is part of railway operations or construction. The burden is on the applicant to satisfy the Agency that they are experiencing substantial interference.
 If the applicant is not able to establish, on a balance of probabilities, that they are experiencing substantial interference, the Agency will dismiss the application without further investigation. If the applicant establishes substantial interference, then the Agency proceeds to the second part of the test.
 The second part of the test relates to “reasonableness”. Reasonableness is determined on a case‑by-case basis and relates to an objective sense of what is just and proper in a given circumstance. What is reasonable in some circumstances may not be reasonable in other circumstances. The challenge is to carefully balance the concerns of communities with the need for a railway company to maintain efficient and economically viable railway operations consistent with its statutory obligation to cause only such noise and/or vibration as is reasonable, taking into account its railway operations and/or construction.
 If the Agency determines that the noise and/or vibration from railway operations is reasonable, it will dismiss the application. Alternatively, if the Agency determines that the noise and/or vibration is not reasonable, it may order a railway company to undertake any change in its railway operations that the Agency considers necessary to ensure compliance with section 95.1 of the CTA.
ISSUE 1: DOES THE NOISE CAUSED BY THE RINGING OF BELLS ON THE METROLINX UP EXPRESS TRAINS AT THE BLOOR STATION CONSTITUTE SUBSTANTIAL INTERFERENCE?
Positions of the parties
 Mr. McComish claims that, since the inception of the UP Express service in June 2015, the ringing of train bells as trains arrive and depart the Bloor Station constitutes excessive noise. In support of his argument, Mr. McComish filed a petition signed by over 70 “impacted residents of Toronto” in which he asked for the cessation of bell ringing and noise mitigation. The petition was sent to the Ontario Minister of Transportation during the summer of 2016.
 Mr. McComish indicates that the density of the “Junction area” of old Toronto is increasing, particularly in close proximity to the rail corridor. He points out that, in pursuing its Regional Expansion of Rail plan, the Province of Ontario will expand its service, resulting in additional GO trains on densely populated urban corridors, including the Kitchener and Milton lines that stop at the Bloor Station.
 Mr. McComish states that UP Express trains at the Bloor Station arrive and depart, on average, every 7.5 minutes, 20 hours a day, for a total of 160 trains per day (i.e., 8 trains/hour x 20 hours). He submits that, while the bell ringing is not continuous, it is “frequent enough to have a human annoyance impact”. He also states that the train bell is rung for up to 60 seconds as the train arrives, and then again as it departs. Mr. McComish filed a video which he submits was taken on October 31, 2016, showing a UP Express train arriving at the Bloor Station and ringing its engine bell for 58 seconds. Mr. McComish states that there is “great inconsistency” in practice, and that residents have observed much longer durations for the bell ringing than the 20 to 22 seconds claimed by Metrolinx.
 Mr. McComish filed data regarding sound levels in the form of an e-mail addressed to him from a person whose title and qualifications are not specified. That person states that, standing on the platform at the Bloor Station, he obtained a reading of 93 dB when standing right next to the train, but that “most of the readings were in the 76 to 86 dB range”. The same person indicates that, “standing at Ernest”, all his readings were 81 dB or under. There is no indication as to the type of equipment used or the conditions in which the measurements were taken.
 In response to the in-house study regarding sound level filed by Metrolinx, Mr. McComish submits that frequency and tonality of the noise are not addressed, even though people are generally less sensitive to low frequency sounds.
 Mr. McComish states that local residents reached out to Metrolinx to request that the UP Express bell ringing be stopped or turned down, but Metrolinx responded every time that to ring bells is a requirement under the Railway Safety Act, R.S.C., 1985, c. 32 (4th Supp.). Mr. McComish also indicates that different Members of Parliament and the Toronto City Councillor have been involved in this issue and have contacted Metrolinx and the Toronto City Manager to that effect. He states that, even though the Toronto City Councillor formally asked, in July 2016, that the Toronto City Manager undertake discussions with Metrolinx and Transport Canada to “identify best practices and possible solutions that [avoid] the use of train bells and/or whistles for trains entering and exiting passenger rail stations”, it appears that formal discussions on this issue have not yet been engaged.
 While Mr. McComish contends that the noise resulting from the bell ringing is excessive, he indicates that he would be less concerned if further mitigation steps were taken to confine the noise to within the parameters of the rail corridor. He proposes the following possible mitigation measures:
- Creation of a “Quiet Zone” with a complete cessation of bell ringing, or reduction of the duration and volume of the bell ringing.
- Exploration of an alternative alarm/alert system, e.g. a pleasant sounding chime only audible from the platform level to alert passengers of the arrival and departure of a train.
- Installation of precision barriers, similar to those installed at the Union Station, that align with the UP Express train doors.
- Completion of acoustical studies.
- Consideration of a forward sounding directional bell rather than the current omnidirectional bell that creates wayside noise.
- Reduction of the duration of the bell ringing to the time when the train has cleared the short elevated UP Express section of the longer GO train platform.
 Mr. McComish indicates that a continuous five-meter tall barrier is currently in place at the Bloor Station, with the lower one-third being concrete and the upper portion being plexiglass; however, Mr. McComish submits that the barrier does not mitigate the noise.
 In response to Metrolinx’s statement that it has performed a redesign of the bells on its trains in December 2016, Mr. McComish states that this has not been communicated to “affected area residents”.
 Metrolinx submits that Mr. McComish’s allegations with regard to the alleged harm resulting from the noise caused by the bell ringing at the Bloor Station are not supported by any data. Metrolinx points out that while Mr. McComish submits that some of the residences abutting the Bloor Station are as close as 25 metres from the source of the noise, he provided no information to suggest that the noise actually “interferes with the individuals living in those residences”. Metrolinx also points out that Mr. McComish does not acknowledge the alleviation of the noise impact as a result of the noise walls in place.
 Metrolinx states that the UP Express trains depart each terminus every 15 minutes from 5:30 a.m. to 1:00 a.m. Metrolinx submits that there are 140 trains per day. Metrolinx disputes Mr. McComish’s statement that the ringing of bells lasts up to 60 seconds, stating that all train crews operating the UP Express service have been instructed to start the required bell ringing when approaching a station at the leading edge of the platform, and to turn it off when they are by the departing edge of the platform. Metrolinx states that its “recent field testing” indicates that bell noise lasts between 20 and 22 seconds upon arrival, and again upon departure.
 Metrolinx indicates that, at the beginning of December 2016, it completed a relocation of the train bell to the centre of the car on its entire UP Express fleet. The new bell design comprises a partial enclosure with sound-deadening material. Metrolinx states that it undertook “field testing of bell sound from several locations on the station platform”, and that in all but one test, overall sound pressure levels measured 73 dBA or lower, with the majority of test results measuring below 70 dBA. Metrolinx argues that, as these measurements were taken on the station platform, the noise wall did not mitigate the effect of the ringing. Metrolinx also points out that Mr. McComish’s application was filed with the Agency prior to the redesign of the bells on the UP Express fleet.
 Metrolinx also submits that Mr. McComish has filed very limited evidence as to the specific duration, sound levels, or impact of the noise. Metrolinx indicates that the only evidence of sound levels filed by Mr. McComish, in the form of an e-mail addressed to him, does not identify the location of the receptor, the type of noise heard, the noise duration, or the methodology used. Metrolinx also point out that the e-mail is dated July 2016, meaning that the measurements pre‑date its bell modification.
 Metrolinx filed a report entitled Sound Level Measurements at Bloor Station re: UP Express Bells, prepared by its Construction Management Office (CMO) as of December 21, 2016. According to the CMO, the report was prepared to compare sound levels of the UP Express engine bells at the Bloor Station to the requirements of section 11.3 of Transport Canada’s Railway Locomotive Inspection and Safety Rules (Safety Rules). The Safety Rules require an engine bell to produce a minimum sound level of 60 dBA at any location on an arc of 15 metres radius subtended forward of the locomotive by angles 45 degrees to the left and to the right of the centreline of the track in the direction of travel. The report sets out that background sound measurements were collected upon arrival on site with no trains or passengers within the vicinity, and that train sampling events were started prior to the train approaching. The report concludes that all measurements consistently indicated that the background noise levels were between 50 and 56 dBA, and that bell noise ranges between 66 and 73 dBA, meeting the minimum requirement of 60 dBA set out in the Safety Rules.
 Metrolinx submits that the noise in this case does not meet the threshold of substantial interference with the ordinary comfort or convenience of living, according to the standards of the average person.
Analysis and findings
 As noted above, the initial step in the analysis of noise and vibration applications is to determine the existence of noise and vibration and whether it constitutes substantial interference with the ordinary comfort or convenience of living, according to the standards of the average person. If there is no substantial interference, there is no need to pursue the analysis further.
 To make a determination on the existence of noise and vibration that may constitute substantial interference, the Agency will consider the elements outlined in its Guidelines for the Resolution of Complaints Over Railway Noise and Vibration. These elements include:
- railway operations in the affected area, including any relevant changes;
- the characteristics and magnitude of the noise or vibration (such as the level and type of noise [impulse or constant], the time of day, the duration, and the frequency of occurrence);
- relevant noise or vibration measurements or studies;
- the presence of other ambient noise, such as highway noise;
- the impact of the noise or vibration disturbance on the persons affected;
- relevant standards to assess the significance of the effects of the noise and vibration levels;
- available mitigation methods and technologies that are cost-effective and operationally feasible;
- mitigation efforts made by the parties; and,
- any other issues relevant to the application.
 In this case, the burden is on Mr. McComish to satisfy the Agency that he is experiencing substantial interference as a result of the noise caused by the bell ringing on the UP Express trains at the Bloor Station. Mr. McComish describes the railway operations at the Bloor Station as 160 trains per day ringing their bells for up to 60 seconds when they arrive, and again when they depart the station. While this represents a significant number of bell ringing events during one day, Mr. McComish has not established the impact of the noise disturbance. He has only stated, in a general way, that the noise is excessive and causes physical, financial, mental and emotional harm. Mr. McComish did not file any log of incidents, readings, studies, expert evidence or recordings to specifically substantiate that the noise that can actually be heard from his residence constitutes substantial interference with the ordinary comfort or convenience of living to which he is entitled.
 The only data filed by Mr. McComish regarding sound levels relates to ambient noise at the Bloor Station and at Ernest Avenue. However, these sound levels seem to include all noise sources (e.g. traffic, train engine, neighbourhood noise, train movements and the bell itself, without mitigation) and appear to be unfiltered (i.e., they include low frequency sounds). It is impossible to determine what portion of the noise is attributed to the ringing of the bells. In addition, these measurements were taken in July 2016, before the modification of the bells on the UP Express trains was completed, such that they do not accurately represent the actual situation. Also of note is the fact that Mr. McComish provided no information regarding the method used to measure the noise, such that the data that he submitted cannot be used with confidence.
 Railway operations, by their nature, cause noise and vibration. The level of noise and vibration observed will vary based on a number of factors, one significant factor being the physical proximity of the residences to the railway. The Agency acknowledges that Mr. McComish’s residence is located in proximity to the Bloor Station. However, this, alone, is not sufficient for the Agency to find that the noise causes substantial interference.
 Based on the above, the Agency finds that Mr. McComish has failed to discharge his burden of providing sufficient evidence to prove, on a balance of probabilities, substantial interference with the ordinary comfort or convenience of living, according to the standards of the average person. In light of this, there is no need to assess whether the noise is reasonable pursuant to section 95.1 of the CTA.
 Accordingly, the Agency dismisses the application.