Rail Cargo Group has already converted 80% of its fleet to LL brake blocks

Rail Cargo Group has already converted 80% of its fleet to LL brake blocks
photo: https://images.app.goo.gl/RWGb1bNfpQ5V9bVK6/ÖBB locomotive
24 / 11 / 2020

Through the Quiet Tracks initiative, Rail Cargo Group sets new standards in the railway market. In 2021, all Rail Cargo Group vehicles will be equipped with composite brake blocks. Thanks to these brake pads, rail freight cars are much quieter.

The technology of "quiet brake blocks" is one of the most important measures that have been introduced to reduce noise emissions. Noise can be solved directly in the place where it occurs. Railway noise, together with the environmental protection of railway transport, is the most addressed issue in Austria.

The Rail Cargo Group therefore converts all its vehicles to composite brake blocks, which significantly reduce the noise of used brake systems. Silent brake blocks can reduce noise by up to half. The advantage of this measure is that it applies to the whole railway sector. The Rail Cargo Group currently has quiet brake blocks for about 80 % of its whole fleet.

The problem with cast iron brake blocks is that when they are used, the surface of the wheels is being edged. The new brake blocks, on the other hand, have a surface made of synthetic material or ceramic. This reduces the rolling noise of cars by approximately 10 dB. Noise is therefore reduced by 50 % for human hearing. Composite brake blocks do not grind the wheel surface. This prevents grinding on the surface of the track. All components thus remain smooth and no further noise is caused.

On the other hand, significantly higher wheel wear and significantly more expensive composite blocks increase the costs that railcar owners all around the Europe will have to pay for this sound comfort. So far, the costs of switching to LL blocks are being offset by incumbents and big railcar owners with subsidies from the EU and nation states. In the near future, however, this expense may reduce the competitiveness of the railways in the European freight market.

The Quiet Tracks initiative was founded by the Austrian ÖBB group. This group carries around 267 million passengers and more than 105 million tons of goods per year on Austrian railways. Through this initiative, the ÖBB seeks to introduce measures to reduce rail noise in both rail freight and infrastructure. "Silent brake blocks" are fitted to the rolling stock. Noise barriers are then built next to the infrastructure to further noise protection. The initiative also supports other measures such as soundproof windows and doors as well as soundproof fans for residents living around the tracks. Noise abatement measures are included in all new projects.

Reducing noise on the railways is another point of its modernization. Given the promotion of railways as sustainable means of transportation, it is logical that the issue of noise in this type of transport is also addressed. The ratio of rail transport should increase in the coming years. Carriers thus want to provide passengers with comfort and want to reduce noise to a minimum for people living around railways.

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