A 24 hours workshop on the challenges of the European railways in relation to the Directive 2002/49 and the options and obligations for the owners of the railway infrastructure in EU was held on Thursday 3rd of December and Friday 4th of December 2009 in Copenhagen. 40 people attended the workshop.
The directive 2002/49 requires strategic noise mapping to be carried out every 5 years followed by action plans showing measures to reduce noise where necessary and to preserve environmental noise quality where it is good.
The workshop was opened by the director of Banedanmark (Rail Net Denmark) Jesper Hansen who gave a brief introduction to on-going noise related activities at Banedanmark. He asked for a KPI (key performance indicator) to address the noise issues to the politicians.
Balazs Gergely from DG-Environment in the Commission reflected upon the difficulties Member States (MS) might have had using Reportnet for the mapping result, but wondered why nobody has requested any guidance on how to use the Reportnet correct.
Further he mentioned the present activities on the review of the END, carried out by Milieu.be. Their work focus on the lack of experience, the time issues, the lack of guidance and the right input data in the various MS. Milieu has based their work on a questionnaire follow up by interviews with selected parties. The review is delayed until 2011.
In addition Balazs mentioned the work and directives developed by DG-Energy and Transport.
Finally he welcomed the current work on the new Common European prediction method planned for 2010.
Colin Nugent from the European Environment Agency presented the validated mapping data for 2007 received before 20th of February 2009. Not all MS have reported their mapping data by this date (deadline was 30. December 2007). The number of exposed people based on 57% of the total data being reported showed that 3.7 Mio. people are exposed above Lden = 55 dB from railways compared to 42 Mio people exposed by noise from road traffic. The comprehensive data can be found on the website: http://noise.eionet.europa.eu/index.html.
Itziar Aspuru shared some of the experience from the Spanish strategic noise mapping. On the input data the most challenging issue was the traffic data and especially freight trains, and in addition to choose the right train types from the Interim (Dutch) method. Itziar also raised the issue of defining the appropriate train speeds near stations.
Marco Paviotto summarised the two workshops held in 2009 on the development of a new Common European prediction method (working title CNOSSOS-EU). The outcome is expected by Mid 2010 and will define both a scientific method for detailed noise calculations and a simplified method for strategic noise mapping, both based on the same core calculation engine with no Intellectual Property Rights and free accessible formulas etc. for software developers and others. It was questioned whether the new method will be fit for purpose for the next round of mapping of 2011 to be reported by December 2012.
Lars Find Larsen followed up by sharing the Danish experience on using NORD2000 (one of the candidates to be used for the Common method) for the 2007 mapping. Nord2000 is a 1/3-octave band method calculating yearly average noise exposure. The calculation time has increased (up to 200 times more) compared to the former Nordic method in dB(A) (no octave bands) using only favourable meteorological conditions. At present Nord2000 is only implemented in one software programme. Even after more than 2 years intensive use new errors or mistakes are discovered. It is foreseen that the same may be the case for the implementation of the Common European method, when it shall be implemented in software packages.
Mary Stevens shared some of the UK experience on informing the public. The communication process has been challenging as noise is a complicated message. Environmental Protection UK has published a number of leaflets to try to overcome these challenges and can be found on www.environmental-protection.org.uk.
The first day was finished by a taster of a new railway database in Denmark encompassing data on track construction, actual rail conditions, calculated noise levels at facades, complaints etc. It is foreseen to be ready for use early 2010.
The next day Martin van den Berg opened the morning session presenting relevant noise indicators, limit or action values and the health effects of noise. He questioned the use of limit values. It easy to understand, but might lead to inefficient use of budgets. Even below relevant limit values many people feel annoyed and health effect might be experienced. He proposed to use population indicators (like DALY or the like) or exposure-effect curves as publish by EU and WHO. He announced the newly published Night Noise Guidelines from WHO recommending Lnight between 40 and 55 dB outside at the façade of bedrooms.
The Expert Panel on Noise (EPoN) will publish a fact sheet on the matter in 2010.
Rick Jones and Franck Poisson gave two comprehensive presentations of the most important railway noise sources and the various measures to control and reduce noise at the source. They both recommended to put focus on the rolling noise, even for high-speed trains. The rolling noise is dependent on sleepers, rail, and the wheel at various frequencies and the noise might be reduced during optimal design of the track and proper grinding. Another important noise source is the cooling fans. Franck mentioned that optimised design of the barrier top may reduce noise by several dB.
Two examples of recent action plans were presented. One for railway noise in England presented by Yvette Bosworth from Defra and Mark Gaynor from the Department for Transport. As the strategic noise mapping 2006 shows a large number of exposed people, the first step in the action plan is to help the 0.5-1% highest exposed. In England the political focus is to reduce the number noise complaints.
Lisette Mortensen, UIC (former employee from Banedanmark) gave a summary of Banedanmarks noise reduction programme 1986-2010 encompassing all people exposed to railway noise above LAeq,24h = 60 dB. A follow-up noise action plan programme will be initialised in 2010 focusing on active measure at the sources, covering a revised design of the tracks and improved rail grinding. The Danish government has approved a 4-budget of 400 Mio DKK to fight road and railway noise.
The last presentation was given by Søren Damgaard Kristensen on quiet areas and soundscape. An audio demo of natural sounds was recorded and Søren mentioned that implementing quiet areas in future land use planning might reduce the options for new railway traces.
Søren Rasmussen as moderator summarised the workshop by highlighting the following issues:
• The END Directive is under review. If anybody has experienced difficulties or unclear or missing issues it is time to report to Balazs Gergely within the next month
• CNOSSOS-EU (the new Common European prediction method) is under development and planned to be finalised before April 2010. Any comments, ideas or views shall be given to Marco Paviotto as a matter of urgency (before January 2010)
• Any ideas or views of KPI to be use for communication with the politicians and the public is welcomed in order to show understandable benefits of noise reductions. Findings and ideas for proper communication with the public is crucial (and may be an issue for future UIC workshops)
• Please check the noise maps published on the IEONET website run by EEA
• Focus on quiet areas in land use planning in order to coordinate with future planning of new traces for railway lines