RESIDENTS in Magor have criticised Network Rail for the way a complaint about Christmas improvement works has been handled.

The sleeping residents in West End were rudely awoken at 2am on December 25 as Network Rail employees began “piling works” just metres from their homes.

Network Rail describes piling works as “the driving of cylindrical steel piles deep into the ground” and says the work is “by its nature a very noisy activity”.

One man said his two-year-old daughter had been “crying and screaming” because of the panic and confusion of being woken up by the noise in the middle of the night.

Now, the residents say they are unhappy with the response they have received from Network Rail. The firm did notify locals in writing that piling works would take place “between January and July 2019”, but the residents told the Free Press they couldn’t understand why the work commenced at such a sensitive time, especially on a day traditionally associated with family and festivities.

“I know they’ve got to do the work when the railway has little traffic, but it conflicted with the spirit of Christmas – especially for people who worked right up to Christmas and then finally got to bed,” John Parry, a resident of West End, said.

He added: “Who up the chain sanctioned this? I can’t see why they couldn’t hang back until [later on] Christmas morning.”

Mr Parry’s home is one of many on West End which back on to the main railway line which connects Wales to London.

And one of his neighbours said the commotion on Christmas morning began when Network Rail started installing a pole behind his property.

“The noise immediately woke me and my partner, with the piling violently shaking our house,” he said. “My two-year-old daughter’s bedroom backs onto the railway track and she was sadly woken by the disturbance and noises at 2am on Christmas day.

“You can imagine how difficult it was to try and get her back to sleep with the excitement of Christmas day.

“However the worst was how scared she was continuously crying and screaming.

“In the end I was able to make up a story of how Santa was outside to calm her and try and get her back to sleep.

“Given her age she took this. However, I feel sorry for any other residents on the street with older children who may not have gone with this.”

He said the works continued through to 6am.

He added: “I don’t understand why [Network Rail] thought it would be a good idea to carry out works early in the morning on Christmas Day. These works surely could have commenced later during the week?”

Another neighbour, Bill Lewis, told the Free Press he had complained to Network Rail on December 26.

In his email to Network Rail, Mr Lewis said he “took no issue” with the need for work to be done on the line, but called the 2am start time “thoughtless and irresponsible“.

He added: “The house was vibrating. My three-year-old grandchild was clearly distressed and, in a nutshell, the family enjoyment of Christmas Day was diminished because we were all so tired.

“What clown thought it would be a good idea to commence this work ahead of the schedule in your letter, and if it was necessary, why on earth could such work not have been undertaken in an area where this line has no residential impact?”

Mr Lewis told the Free Press he had not received a satisfactory response.

In a statement, a Network Rail spokesperson said: “The work delivered over the Christmas and New Year period was a major part of modernising the South Wales Mainline.

"Piling is a noisy activity, and we apologise to our lineside neighbours for any disruption our work caused.

“For the safety of track workers, this type of work needs to be carried out when trains are not running.

"As significantly fewer people travel over the Christmas and New Year period our engineers had more time than usually possible to make uninterrupted progress on this vital project, which will result in less subsequent weekend and night-time disruption for residents and less day-time rail disruption for passengers.”