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Systematically working towards a quieter railroad

Protecting those who live near railroad tracks from noise caused by rail is a major concern at Deutsche Bahn. DB is implementing a host of measures aimed at cutting noise caused by rail in half by 2020.

Noise pollution is one of the biggest environmental problems today – especially freight trains equipped with old brakes make notable noise. For years, Deutsche Bahn has been working on how to make its trains less noisy and protect those living near train tracks from the noise caused by rail. It is implementing several different components and is constantly searching for new solutions to achieve what it has set out to do: cut noise from rail transport in half by 2020 compared to 2000 values.

Noisea Group-wide concern


Several departments at DB AG are working on noise reduction since it is such a complex issue. One vital player is DB Netz AG, which is responsible for noise control measures along routes as well as for quieter tracks. It builds noise barriers and installs sound-proof windows in homes along tracks on behalf of the German federal government.

Employees of DB Systemtechnik are pushing ahead with researching new technologies that reduce noise from trains themselves and on the tracks or in their vicinity. They consult the scientific community and other rail companies in Europe. The employees of DB Environment help the divisions with their work, give advice and help them to implement effective measures.

DB created the position of a noise protection officer in 2012 to consolidate noise reduction activities. It has launched an extensive package of measures for both tracks and rolling stock over the coming years to ensure it meets its noise control targets.

Reducing noise directly at the source


The most effective solution is to prevent noise from being generated right at the source. Approval of LL (low-low friction) brake blocks in June 2013 marked a breakthrough in the conversion of freight cars. LL brakes are quiet brakes that can easily be installed in existing vehicles. All old freight cars are being retrofitted with these quieter brake blocks, which cut the rolling noise of cars to half that of conventional cast iron brakes. The measure will reduce noise from rail transport network-wide. New cars purchased by DB Schenker Rail since 2001 come equipped with another type of quiet brakes, K brake blocks.