Activity: Noise

Railway noise reduction raises to the next level

UIP and its members recognise that noise is a critical environmental burden that affects not only society, but also the performance of the railway system around Europe. The EU has already taken a number of measures towards noise reduction.  However, noise is proving to be a complex topic that requires sound cost efficient measures and action plans that need to reflect the political and economic priorities of the national governments, while at the same time maintain the performance and competitiveness of the railway system.

Significance to UIP and our Members

Any existing and forthcoming EU legislation on noise reduction has an impact on transaction, operational and maintenance costs for the rail freight sector, particularly the Wagon Keepers who are expected to invest a great deal in the retrofitting of their fleet.

UIP fully supports the objective of reducing rail freight noise and understands the need to increase the pace towards having only TSI noise compliant wagons (retrofitted or new builds) running throughout Europe.  However, as only few Member States are considering concrete measures for noise reduction, UIP warns about an increasing risk for unbalanced implementation of noise reduction strategies at national level which will further jeopardise rail freight competitiveness and efficient cross border traffic.

UIP focuses its activities in supporting the European Commission towards developing an appropriate Noise Abatement Strategy that will lead to a harmonised implementation across Europe, developing of suitable incentive schemes, and setting-up a feasible financing framework for wagon retrofitting via the Connecting Europe Facility (CEF).

UIP continuously stresses before the TRAN Committee of the European Parliament the fact that pushing for a ban on wagons equipped with cast iron brake blocks by 2020 and only in some regions of Europe would be detrimental to the objective of promoting and increasing rail freight market shares in Europe and addressing the challenges of climate change.

UIP remains positive that the MS and the Sector will work together to find smart solutions for noise reduction following some of the EC Recommendations in its Staff Working Document:

  • Noise reduction is a European issue and the current measures are insufficient to ensure a noticeable reduction of railway noise within the next 5-10 years.
  • There is inefficiency and risks linked to uncoordinated unilateral actions by Member States (reverse modal split, bottlenecks, breach of interoperability, and distortion of competition…)
  • A holistic approach (internalisation of noise costs by all transport modes) is by far the best performing measure to be taken.
  • The NDTAC bonus can be increased to take into account the additional operating and maintenance costs linked to the use of retrofitted wagons.
  • While, national funding programs supporting the retrofitting of freight wagons should be limited to 50 % of relevant investment costs, CEF funds should remain complementary to them.
  • Noise-related standards for railway infrastructure maintenance should also be developed.
  • If a revision of the TSI Noise is proposed, a gradual applicability of the noise limit value to the existing freight wagon fleet may be introduced.

In May 2016 UIP joined the European Railway Agency Task Force for the revision of the Noise TSI.

Since the CEF call for actions to reduce rail freight noise was launched between October 2016 and February 2017, CEF has so far co-funded the retrofitting of more than 120,000 rail freight wagons with the objective to reduce noise emissions with a contribution of over EUR 27 million.

UIP Documents

Study by Maria Price and Markus Vaerst on the NDTAC Impact on return of investment for retrofitting of railway wagons - December 2016
UIP guidelines on CEF calls for noise reduction - June 2016
UIP report on state of play of noise discussions at EU and national level - April 2015
UIP Position Paper - July 2013

EU Documents of interest

2016 CEF Transport AP General Call - October 2016
Questions from Members of the European Parliament and Written Answers from the Commission - July 2016

Commission Staff Working Document - Rail Freight Noise Reduction - December 2015
TSI Noise - November 2014 (on EURA Website)
EC Roadmap on effective reduction of noise - March 2013
Recast of the First Railway Package 2001 (Directive 2012/34/EU) - November 2012
EC Communication on rail noise abatement measures - July 2008
Environmental Noise Directive 2002/49/EC - June 2002

Tagged under Noise