Rail is the most sustainable form of mass transport for both passengers and freight and must be promoted if climate goals are to be met. Via the Green Deal, Europe is taking action, and railway is being promoted as an environmentally friendly means of transportation. To enable this planned modal shift from cars and lorries, rail infrastructure and fleet must expand, and rail traffic must increase. The rail sector must be prepared to address any issues that may arise from the increased traffic frequency and fulfil its regulatory obligations.
The issue of noise from running trains in operational service has been well explored, and huge progress in noise reduction has been made over the years, as detailed in the UIC Noise and Vibration (NV) Sector’s latest report on Railway noise in Europe. However, an increasing number of complaints are now being received from lineside neighbours about other noise sources from trains, even when the trains are parked or stationary. Modern multiple units (EMU/DMU) are equipped with many different mechanical parts (compressors, HVAC, power converters, traction units, etc.), which have been causing noise disturbances for close-by residents. Consequently, work is under way to find solutions to reduce noise pollution from parked or stationary trains. UIC and its members are reacting to this emerging issue within the NV Sector. A new study will investigate in detail whether this situation is the same for stationary trains (e.g. trains idling in stations or at signals) and parked trains (e.g. in a depot or at a terminus), while simultaneously collecting information and data from UIC members, updating the existing information shared in the UIC Managing Noise from Parked Trains report (published in 2014), and informing the sector of the latest best practice.
Collaboration with VibraTec
The UIC Sustainability unit has developed cooperative links with various stakeholders dealing with the main global challenges facing the world today. Within the NV Sector, UIC and its members decided to prepare a preliminary report describing the management of idling, parking, and stationary train noise for European railways.
Successful implementation of noise mitigation and future legislation requires knowledge of the acoustic source characteristics, measurement techniques and knowledge gaps. This was first addressed in 2014, when the UIC NV Sector released its first technical report on parked train noise. In 2021, the UIC NV Sector has secured the collaboration of VibraTec (https://www.vibratecgroup.com/) with a contract to draft a technical report on managing noise from parked and stationary trains in Europe. As a result, UIC is pleased to announce that work on a new scope study for managing noise from stationary and parked trains has started, with the aim of publishing a technical report in autumn 2022. The study aims to assist all stakeholders in meeting the challenges faced by the sector, by analysing and collating the information to be gathered from the relevant members. The final deliverable will be disseminated at the UIC Railway Noise Days in 2023.
What will UIC and VibraTec work on?
The new study aims to update and expand the existing information gathered by UIC and reported in 2014, and to analyse the data collected and work undertaken by European railways to date. The project’s objectives have been set to:
- Acquire a representative picture of the management of noise from idling, stationary or parked trains in Europe and to prepare a proposal to determine the next steps and make suggestions for the global railway community;
- Provide an evidence basis regarding the management of noise from idling or stationary trains in Europe for UIC participation in European Commission meetings discussing expected revisions of noise legislation (i.e. TSI NOI).
In order to achieve the objectives of this activity, UIC has established a steering expert group which will lead the work within the sector while working closely with VibraTec. Surveys will be required to collect information during this study, and UIC will invite railway companies to participate and share information from their networks through desktop research, literature reviews and online surveys.