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Conference_programme: 14.1 - Knowledge and research gaps for a better implementation of the Environmental Noise Directive

Lecture: Remaining research topics for railway noise control

Author(s): De Vos Paul, Van Leeuwen Hans

In the early nineties of the 20th century, the joint European railways committed leading research institutes to study train wheel rail interaction. The hypothesis was that rolling noise was the major generating mechanism of railway noise, and that this was caused by wheel and rail irregularities. A key result of this research work was a validated numerical model (TWINS), which allowed predicting the efficiency of a wide range of interventions. The TWINS instrument, once available, facilitated a long series of research projects, some of them co-financed by either the European Commission or national states, such as the EU framework projects, the French-German collaboration projects and many others. As a direct result, in less than 5 years from now, freight trains will be substantially quieter than before. Today, tracks are smoother and passenger trains are quieter, including high speed trains. In spite of these achievements, noise barriers are still a “necessary evil” where residential area are close to the tracks. With modern signaling, traffic intensities will go up, particularly during the night. We can’t do without sustainable and cost efficient noise control. There is still potential in enhancing track smoothness and durability at the same time. Rail roughness generation and growth are not yet fully understood. Wheel out of roundness and wheel flats need to be avoided instead of mitigated. And last but not least: there is no consistent quantitative understanding of the impact of railway noise on residents. Particularly the efficiency of sound insulating façades – a solution requiring substantial societal financing - for annoyance and health impact reduction has not been investigated at all. As a result of residents’ concern and political pressure, the dose response relation for railway noise, compared to other transport noise sources, is a subject of an everlasting discussion in European countries. Here there is still a lot to gain if researchers were to look closer at how noise is perceived in daily and assessed. The paper will propose how these knowledge gaps could be solved.

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Corresponding author

Name: Mr Paul de Vos

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Country: Netherlands