Noise reduction

Transporting more passengers by #strongrail means that we have to think about the people who live beside our rail tracks. There is no way to make trains completely silent, but we need to ensure that people living close to rail facilities are on side if we want to transport more passengers and more freight on the greenest form of mobility there is. 

We have therefore set ourselves an ambitious goal: We want to halve our train noise levels by 2020.

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Noise reduction is environmental protection.

Thanks to our hard work on a two-strand strategy for improved noise control, we will live up to our ambitions and reach our target:

Strand one: Reducing noise at the point of origin:
This is a matter of building noise barriers along our routes and helping residents to fit their houses and apartments with features such as sound-insulating windows and other forms of insulation. By the end of 2020, these measures will benefit people living along some 2,000 kilometers of track. In the years before 2019, the German government and Deutsche Bahn invested more than 1.4 billion euros in noise control measures on existing lines as part of an ongoing voluntary noise reduction program.

50400
2018
63000
2020
How many DB freight wagons have been fitted with whisper brakes so far

Strand two: Minimizing on-site impact by improving local noise control:
This is a matter of building noise barriers along our routes and helping residents to fit their houses and apartments with features such as sound-insulating windows and other forms of insulation.

By the end of 2020, these measures will benefit people living along some 2,000 kilometers of track. In the years before 2019, the German government and Deutsche Bahn invested more than 1.4 billion euros in noise control measures on existing lines as part of an ongoing voluntary noise reduction program.

1800 km
2018
2000 km
2020
The length of track fitted with noise-control equipment

This positive development proves to us that noise control measures can have a considerable impact, which in turn inspires us to do even more to make the Strong Rail system as green and as quiet as possible.

Against this backdrop, we are also working on the three following issues.

More and better noise control at flashpoints:

Not all routes are used to the same degree, and specific local conditions can result in different residents of the same place experiencing more or less noise depending on where exactly they live. We are therefore making plans for these flashpoints: Additional noise control measures to develop site-specific solutions that address local needs.

Based on the findings of feasibility studies, we have already put first noise-reducing measures into place at different locations, such as the valleys along the middle Rhine and the Inn. These places are particularly affected by noise, and over the coming years, we will be investing hundreds of millions of euros in constructing noise barriers and installing new noise control features (largely rail web dampers). Together, these measures will deliver long-lasting peace and quiet to everyone living in the vicinity of our tracks. 

R&D for even quieter trains:

Research into new network infrastructure technology and vehicle design innovations play a major role in our work to cut noise emissions. Working with VTG AG, we have now completed the development process for an innovative freight wagon, one that is energy-efficient, low-noise and fitted with smart technology.

We were also busy with other projects covered by the same initiative, funded to the sum of about 18 million euros by the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure (BMVI). Some of these included looking at different freight wagon types, such as motor vehicle and container transporters, flat cars and tank cars, to come up with new designs that increase effectiveness, reliability and cost efficiency.

R&D for better on-site noise reduction: 

New technology makes better noise control measures possible. We are involved in a host of projects to research and test noise-reducing innovations that we can use along our tracks. Joining forces with the German ministry of transport, we have been working on a project (I-LENA) that focuses on testing noise control facilities in new, application-focused ways.

This entails a wide array of activities, ranging from new, low-height noise barriers to innovative materials for mobile barriers that shield people living near building sites from noise. We are also conducting research into minimizing curve squeal or noise made by vehicles crossing bridges. The project has a volume of around six million euros and is due to run until the end of 2020.

Many of the solutions that are currently in development will soon be ready for deployment. This will cut noise emissions and increase people's acceptance of higher levels of rail traffic.