Bearable railway noise limits in Europe

Invited paper

Frank Elbers


Wednesday 3 june, 2015, 15:20 - 15:40

0.8 Rome (118)

The question ‘What are bearable limits for environmental railway noise?’ is discussed regularly in different forums on a national scale and on a European level. A systematic evaluation of all aspects in what ‘bearable’ could consist of was always missing. The UIC research Project ‘Bearable limits and emission ceilings’ has brought UIC in the position to propose for the first time a well-balanced limit for noise reception. This noise reception limit is a trade-off between the disturbing impact of noise for line side residents and realistic possibilities for viable railways. Findings are based on an extensive study that was commissioned by the UIC and carried out by dBvision in the Netherlands. A bearable value of noise reception limits for the night (Lnight) is not lower than around 55 dB. More stringent limit values are not effective because: - For values above 55 dB railway noise is the dominant source for sleep disturbed persons in urban areas near railway lines. For values lower than 55 dB, it is more effective to spend money on measures for road traffic noise. This will generally result in more reduction of the overall sleep disturbance. - Below 50 dB, results show a large increase of cost. Noise limits up to 55 dB are cost-effective. Results are based on a 202 km railway line sample Rotterdam – Venlo and extrapolation to the ERTMS corridors. These ERTMS corridors are defined in the European Rail Infrastructure Masterplan as the main freight corridors.

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