Community Research and Development Information Service - CORDIS

Making railway noise tolerable

Noise and vibration from railways in residential areas hold back the expansion of new rail systems and operation of existing lines. An EU initiative designed measures to ensure acceptable levels of vibration for residents living near freight railway lines.
Making railway noise tolerable
European rail operators wish to double the amount of goods being transported on the railways. However, vibration caused by freight trains passing through residential areas at night disrupts the sleep of residents and could put a halt to the process.

The EU-funded 'Attenuation of ground-borne vibration affecting residents near freight railway lines' (CARGOVIBES) project introduced measures to ensure acceptable levels of vibration for residents. This will allow the amount of traffic to be extended.

CARGOVIBES first assessed the reported health impacts of freight train vibration among residents. A questionnaire was developed to measure the perceptions, annoyance and sleep disturbance caused by vibration. A guideline was produced for railway operators and residents that shows how to measure the negative consequences of night-time freight train vibrations on residents. Another guideline on assessing and measuring the effects of mitigation measures was designed for policymakers, railway operators and planners.

The questionnaire was used in three field surveys where indoor measurements of vibrations were carried out in homes close to freight railway tracks. Researchers also conducted experiments to evaluate sleep disturbance as a result of whole-body vibration from freight transportation.

Three viable and efficient mitigation measures to allow more freight rail traffic and less negative effects were designed and validated. The first measure used on-board and track-based monitoring equipment to pick up excessive vibration from wagons, locomotives and track sections.

The second approach reduced ground-borne vibrations by replacing wooden or concrete sleepers with ladder track or similar track structures.

Soil barriers provided the final measure, which can be applied when track-based solutions are not feasible. The soil barrier approach was suitable for improving an existing situation with minimum disturbance to the railway.

Thanks to CARGOVIBES, residents living close to freight rail lines will experience tolerable vibration levels. Sustainable and effective new mitigation measures will enable freight operators to continue to grow and remain competitive.

Related information




Railway noise, residents, freight railway lines, trains, ground-borne vibration
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