In 2016 UIC has published an updated report concerning the state of the art for the management of Railway Noise in Europe. This topic has a heightened sensitivity given recent developments at EU level and the forthcoming updated noise guidelines to be published by the World Health Organisation.
Railway transport is widely recognised as the most sustainable form of major transport, as it consumes less energy, needs less space and produces less CO2 than any other transport mode. However, noise has long been the main environmental challenge for railway stakeholders. The public and their political representatives urge railway stakeholders to become quieter. But a lot has been achieved, and more activities are on the way. This report describes the recent developments and their impact.
This report is an update of a previous version, entitled Railway Noise in Europe, which was published in 2010. During the past few years significant developments have taken place with respect to legislation and approach, approval and application of technical solutions, responsibilities of the various parties involved and ways to persuade stakeholders to engage in common enterprises to improve the noise situation. At the same time, there is greater insight into the effects of noise on exposed residents and a growing pressure on railway enterprises and infrastructure managers to reduce noise where feasible. As a consequence, a significant noise reduction has been achieved for millions of European residents. Passenger vehicles with noisy cast iron brake blocks have been phased out in large parts of Europe. The retrofitting of significant parts of the rail freight fleet with composite brake blocks has started. In addition, old noisy wagons are scrapped every year and the new wagons replacing them are much quieter. Many kilometres of noise barriers have been constructed, a large number of noise insulated windows installed and measures on the track introduced.
There are a wide variety of stakeholders concerned with the management of railway noise. The rail sector has to deal with regulations and demands from the European Commission, national authorities, regional and city authorities, citizen groups and individuals, and to align these requirements with the railways’ own strategies. This report describes how this is currently done and seeks to inform the associated discussions.
Noise exposure and the cost of noise control must be effectively managed if rail is supposed to increase its market share, and in doing so to reduce the total environmental impact of the whole transport sector.
The full report is available here http://uic.org/IMG/pdf/railway_noise_in_europe_2016_final.pdf