The 7th annual UIC workshop on railway freight noise reduction, held on 8 and 9 November at UIC headquarters in Paris, was attended by more than 80 participants. The main aim of the workshop was to report on the progress in terms of incentives for silent freight vehicles on a European level and with respect to LL-break block homologation. At this year’s workshop the scope was additionally enlarged to include reports on UIC projects and descriptions of railway noise mitigation progress in various railways throughout Europe. The conference was rounded off with talks on the TSI revision and the ERRAC noise roadmap.
A short summary of some of the main points of the workshop is as follows:
Incentives on a European level: The EU has undertaken several studies over the past few years concerning incentives. The method of choice for the EU is noise differentiated track access charging (NDTAC). As part of the recast of the first railway package the EU is amending directive 2001/14/EC to allow NDTAC. An agreement on the recast is expected for 2012 with a transposition to the Member States 1 – 3 years later. An expert group will propose practical solutions for their implementation. The Connecting Europe Programme may form a first formal possibility for financial support from the EU. In Germany NDTAC will be introduced towards the end of 2012. The German railway sector studied different methods of implementing track access charges and studied the transaction costs involved. It is important that a pragmatic solution be found, because in the worst case the transaction costs can be as high as the retrofitting itself. New in discussion is the possibility to prohibit cast iron brake blocks outright.
Progress in LL-block homologation: The EuropeTrain project evaluates the running behaviour, wheel wear and life cycle costs of LL-brake blocks under operational conditions. The test train consists of 32 representative wagons running on loops through all European climatic conditions. An intermediate report is planned for spring 2012, evaluating approximately 100,000 km.
Railway noise issues in various countries: The current railway noise situation was presented in Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Spain, France, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Czech Republic, Italy, Great Britain and Austria. Many railways have similar issues (e.g. work on rail dampers) and therefore it was suggested that closer cooperation on technical measures should be achieved.
UIC noise projects: UIC has two groups dedicated to noise: the network noise and a core group. These groups share information on railway noise abatement and manage additional noise projects. During the workshop completed projects on bearable noise limits and the noise correction factor and ongoing projects on a collection of results and testing conditions of rail dampers, low height barriers and rail grinding in Europe, follow up costs of noise abatement as well a collection of noise reduction results of retrofitting the freight fleet were presented.
TSI noise and ERRAC roadmap: The workshop included information on the current state of the TSI revision, the subjects to be considered therein as well as the process involved. The ERRAC roadmap suggests topics for research in European programmes both for noise and vibrations.
The conclusion of the workshop was that progress was indeed being made and that many projects and players are involved. Retrofitting the freight fleet and all work that supports this (i.e. the homologation of LL brake blocks) should continue to receive priority attention. However, at the same time, it is necessary to widen the scope and to consider other measures as well. Concerning these, closer cooperation between the railways would benefit all.
The presentations and the programme can be found on the UIC website: