Information published on 25 February 2020 in the UIC electronic newsletter "UIC eNews" Nr 680.

UIC Noise and Vibration Network: state-of-the-art report for the management of railway noise in Europe

  • Sustainable development
  • Noise
  • Promoting
  • Publication
  • Reporting
  • Vibrations

The European Commission launched its Green Deal to protect the environment and increase human well-being. According to the document, the European Union will have to achieve climate-neutrality by 2050. Regarding mobility, this requires cleaner, cheaper and healthier forms of transport. Both at EU level as well as at national levels railways are being promoted as an environmentally sound means of transport. In this respect, the Green Deal offers great opportunities for railway traffic which is proven to have a positive effect on air quality and CO2.

Although the effect of railway noise on the human health has drawn a lot of attention, keeping the railways competitive also has a greater societal benefit with regard to measures to counteract climate change. Since the publication of the WHO’s “Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region” in 2018, members of the UIC Network Noise and Vibration (NNV) published a noise flyer https://bit.ly/2TcScfZ
to provide information on common sources of noise, noise control methods, and national and EU strategies and policies. Coinciding with publication of the document, the NNV members expressed their views on the latest WHO noise guidelines and stated that “Railways must be promoted if climate goals are to be achieved”.

As a result of the growth of traffic and the increased use of railway lines, it is necessary to study and to reduce the emission of noise and vibrations from railways and their adverse effects on health even if no studies on the railways were available for some high priority health outcomes such as incidents of ischemic heart disease, permanent hearing impairment, etc. If the competitiveness of the railways is to be maintained, noise mitigation must cost as little as possible and should not reduce traffic capacity.

The UIC NNV published the previous state-of-the-art report for noise in 2016 https://bit.ly/391y6Mg and in the meantime, railway operating companies, infrastructure managers and other railway stakeholders have worked hard to reduce noise emissions. For instance, many freight wagons have been retrofitted, new noise abatement measures have been developed, and existing measures optimised.

Successful application of noise mitigation measures will require insight into the current technological possibilities, including their costs and benefits. Therefore, UIC is pleased to announce that the work on a new state-of-the-art report for railway noise management has started with the aim of being published at the beginning of 2021.

NNV new contract with M+P raadgevende ingenieurs B.V.
To conclude, railway traffic has the momentum to grow and is an essential part of the solution towards a sustainable future for transport although there are still some challenges ahead to accommodate the growth. Therefore, the UIC NNV has secured the collaboration of M+P (https://www.mplusp.eu/) with a contract to draft the state-of-the-art report on railway noise in Europe.

The report will bring information together and help all stakeholders meeting the challenges ahead. The dissemination of the State-of-the-Art report will take place at the beginning of 2021 at UIC headquarters in Paris against the backdrop of the forthcoming UIC Workshop on Railway Noise & Vibrations.

For further information please contact Pinar Yilmazer, UIC Senior Advisor of the Noise and Vibration Network:

yilmazer@uic.org