Application of noise emission limits, a long-term solution. Europe needs to immediately reduce noise level

Apr 24th, 2012 | Category: April 12, Articles, Current issue F&L, Policies & Strategies

At  EU level, the concern on reducing the noise level is more and more approached by launching policies and limits, in order to form a control system of the latter. Therefore, according to a report of the European Environment Agency, limits in the industrial sector are much lower and higher for the railway transport, the average difference reaching 8 dB and the maximum limit 57 dB for industrial noise, and -73 dB for railway noise.
If all problems are not concretely approached, we can have railway traffic restrictions on the most important railway corridors of Europe, and the shift of the traffic from railways to roads could not be taken into account, because it would determine the increase of the environmental impact. Therefore, the retechnologisation of wagons and then the implementation of noise emission limits would determine the reduction of the noise level and the increase of the speed and of the freight railway traffic.

The problem of noise, generated mostly by freight wagons, has determined the Commission to reach the conclusion that one of the optimal and most efficient solutions is to modernise the wagons with the latest braking systems. As a technical solution to eliminate the problem of the “noisy wagons”, the industry has developed new types of brakes and the EU focuses on determining the retechnologisation of wagons by identifying an adequate regulatory framework and by approving new standards regarding the noise emission level for vehicles.
In order to reduce noise emissions, EU wishes that by 2014 the wagons running over 10,000 km per year and having a life cycle of 5 years should be equipped with the new systems, and for the freight wagons, the application of the systems is intended for a number of 370,000 items. Apart from the concept of access charge differentiated according to noise and the voluntary commitments for the wagon modernisation, it is extremely important that a system would be applied regarding the noise emission limits establishing the average level/day according to the location (along the railway line). But this concept should be introduced after the implementation of retechnologisation programmes, avoiding thus the increase of the freight railway transport noise, especially if it is in continuous deve-lopment. This option allows the elaboration of security plans, but if it is not accompanied by other measures and regulations, it could lead to the reduction of the network capa-
city or to the increase of noise reduction costs. Therefore, a railway operator may use vehicles with low noise emissions in order to increase the number and the speed of trains, without exceeding the imposed limits, and this will determine in its turn the encouragement of the development of the related industry.
Nevertheless, before the implementation of this concept, railway operators have the task of elaborating analyses regarding the ba-lance between costs and benefits, considering the fact that, on the date of the system introduction, the noise reduction will already be obtained through the retechnologisation of wagons.

[ by Pamela Luică ]

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