On 8 April at the Berlin-Grunewald railway yard, Deutsche Bahn (DB Mobility Logistics AG, DB Schenker), together with UIC, presented the “Europe Train” test train that had been travelling across Europe since December to test low-noise brakes – equipped with composite “LL” brake blocks” – before it goes into series production to retrofit the existing European freight wagon fleet.
The “Europe Train” test train was composed of 32 freight wagons provided by five railway companies (DB Schenker, SNCF, AAE, Rail Cargo Austria RCA, ZSSK Cargo) of various types, and carrying all kinds of cargo. The test train will have covered a total of 200 000 km before the test programme comes to an end in early 2012. The test train had come from Scandinavia before setting off again for Eastern Europe. The effect of varying temperatures as well as topographic conditions have to be tested.
The “LL” brake block has the potential to halve rail noise produced by conventional trains. Unlike the composite “K” block which also reduces noise levels by half, the “LL” brake block can retrofit an existing wagon fleet at a significantly reduced cost. The expected result is to produce a recommendation for the use of existing, pre-homologated “LL” brake blocks as a basis for an economically viable retrofitting of the majority of the European freight wagon fleet.
“Europe Train” is a project managed by UIC on behalf of the international railway community. To date, 29 railway companies, four industry suppliers and the sector organisations UIC, CER and EIM have signed the resolution for the preparation of “Europe Train”. This UIC Project is managed by Mr Johannes Gräber from Deutsche Bahn.
The objectives and challenges of “Europe Train” were presented on 8 April by Dr Karl-Friedrich Rausch, Member of the Management Board –Transportation and Logistics – of DB ML AG, Prof Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, State Secretary for the German Federal Ministry of Transport, and Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General.
Dr Karl-Friedrich Rausch underlined that “noise reduction in rail freight is at the top of the agenda” and added: “we are counting on continuous growth in rail freight transportation. Acceptance on the very busy corridors requires us to provide active noise control at source”.
Prof Klaus-Dieter Scheurle, State Secretary, also stressed that “noise is one of the biggest problems for the acceptability of traffic. The quantities of goods transported on rail are increasing but in many places, people living along the lines are at the limit of what they can take or have gone beyond the limit. We take people’s concerns seriously and are investing in more noise control on both the tracks and the freight cars. We are funding the “Quiet Freight Traffic” pilot project for example by equipping freight cars with noise-reducing brake systems at a cost of 20 million Euros. This is one step closer to achieving our goal of reducing noise by 50 per cent on severely affected routes by 2020”.
Prof Klaus-Dieter Scheurle also underlined the value of the work achieved by UIC towards common solutions applicable to the international rail sector.
Jean-Pierre Loubinoux, UIC Director-General, insisted that this noise reduction programme is fully in line with UIC’s mission, “promoting rail transport around the world with the aim of meeting the current challenges of mobility and sustainable development”. He added: “UIC, as the international cooperation platform, manages on behalf of the European and worldwide railway community a number of complex technical projects so that the railways can draw the full benefit from improvements in terms of sustainability, particularly in the fields of energy consumption, reduction of CO2 emissions and railway noise. UIC’s technical work and expertise support the actions of political railway associations vis-à-vis the European institutions, the Commission and ERA”.
Following these addresses, Mr Johannes Gräber from Deutsche Bahn, who leads the UIC “Europe Train” projects, showed participants wheelsets with conventional cast iron brake blocks and wheelsets equipped with “LL” brake blocks. Visual inspection shows that cast iron brake blocks roughen the wheel treads – causing railway noise – whereas treads braked with LL brake blocks are smooth, thus yielding a considerable noise reduction.