Noise pollution from railways

Railways are another major source of environmental noise in the Netherlands. That is why there are statutory limits for rail traffic noise. The authorities take measures to reduce this form of noise pollution.

Noise standards for railways

If a railway line no longer complies with permissible noise emission levels, the responsible authority must take measures to ensure that it does, for instance by installing a noise barrier.

Measures to reduce noise nuisance caused by freight trains

The authorities and the private sector have taken various measures to reduce the noise nuisance caused by passing freight trains, such as:

  • Rail dampers

Rail dampers are fastened to both sides of the rail. By absorbing vibrations they reduce noise by about three decibels.

  • Low-noise trains

Nearly all freight wagons have cast-iron brake blocks, which are very noisy. European noise standards now require new freight trains to have composite (synthetic) brake blocks, which keep the wheels smooth. They generate seven to eight decibels less noise than cast-iron brake blocks.

LL brake blocks

Existing freight wagons often remain in service for decades. Fitting them with composite brake blocks is relatively expensive. An alternative is to fit them with LL (‘low noise, low friction’) brake blocks, which have a shorter service life than their composite equivalents but reduce noise almost as effectively.