UIP report on state of play of noise discussions at EU and national level

Report by UIP Topical Committee Economic Evaluation

Noise continues to be high on the agenda at European level where the European Commission is working towards legislative measures for noise reduction. Societal pressures regarding high noise receptions are creating political pressure to take action at European and national levels. While noise creation aspects are legislated at European level, noise reception is submitted to the subsidiary principles and legislated at a national level. At national level, almost all European countries have noise reception limit values for new railway lines and in almost all Member States limit values exist also for upgraded lines.

Initial considerations towards noise in rail transport were taken through the Interoperability Directive and the Noise Technical Specifications for Interoperability (TSI Noise). In addition, the Environmental Noise Directive (END) 2002/49/EC requires Member States to submit noise maps and action plans to assess the number of people exposed to different noise levels throughout Europe. The END does not define any noise limit values, nor does it prescribe the measures to be used in these action plans. As a consequence different pathways are being pursued at both European and national levels.

A common agreement is that noise is mostly driven from the wheel-track interaction and that retrofitting of existing freight wagons with LL- Brake Blocks is the most efficient method to reduce the noise emitted by such wagons. This paper provides an overview of the current and forthcoming legislative measures and initiatives by the EU and national activities in different European States related to noise reduction and retrofitting of rolling stock.