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‘Noise Protection Target 2030’: DB and the German government have introduced a new initiative to reduce rail noise

‘Noise Protection Target 2030’: DB and the German government have introduced a new initiative to reduce rail noise
photo: Deutsche Bahn AG/´s train
22 / 01 / 2021

The initiative aims to reduce rail noise by 2030, which currently affects about half of the population living close to railway infrastructure. This is the next phase of the rail noise abatement program announced by the German government in 1999.

The basic measure under the program is that approximately 125 kilometers of railway infrastructure will be fitted with noise barriers or other noise control measures each year. About 2.000 kilometers are already soundproofed, and in total, another 1.250 kilometers of railway lines should be soundproofed by 2030. An annual budget of € 140 million will be set aside for the implementation of this project.

“We are working with the government to keep our word when it comes to reducing noise emissions. Noise barriers, soundproof windows, rail web dampers, we are using all kinds of measures to successfully reduce exposure to noise along especially busy routes,” said Ronald Pofalla, Board Member for Infrastructure at DB.

Thanks to the initiative of the DB and the German Ministry of Transport, the number of people who are bothered by railway noise should be reduced by about 50%. This means that 800.000 people will have a calmer life.

“Improving anti-noise protection for people living near the rail lines is very important to us. We want these people to have a high quality of life and, above all, be able to get a good night’s rest. For this reason, we are working to greatly reduce the noise created by rail vehicles,” the Federal Minister for Transport and Digital Infrastructure, Andreas Scheuer, said.

The installation of anti-noise measures is the next step after the introduction of silent brake shoes, which has also significantly reduced noise. For example, DB installed 63.000 cars with ‘whispering’ brakes. DB has invested 220 million euros in the modernization of its fleet over the last seven years. However, the project to convert cars to silent brake shoes was also subsidized by European funding from the “Connecting Europe Facility” (CEF). DB paid about 14,3 million euros from own resources, which were distributed among 54.000 railway cars.

The German federal government and DB have already invested about 1.5 billion euros in the noise reduction project. As was said above, about 2.000 soundproof kilometers improved the quality of life of the inhabitants living near the railway in a total of 1.300 cities. Also, about 64.000 houses were equipped with passive soundproofing. Last year alone, there were 145 million euros invested in rail soundproofing. Thanks to this, another 60 kilometers of new noise protection walls were completed.

Efforts to reduce noise are linked to the EU's promotion of rail transport as the sustainable industry which should bring more by rail transported people in the coming years. If people have a happier life near the railways, they will rather use rail transport as well.