Reducing noise and vibrations from rail freight – what more can be done?

Posted: 16 December 2020 | | No comments yet

Zoe McLernon, Multimodal Policy Manager at Logistics UK, shares the challenges surrounding noise disturbance caused by rail freight operations and explores the areas that Logistics UK recommends that government and industry should focus on to help keep noise and vibration to a minimum.


While the UK Parliament recognises that railway operations will always give rise to a degree of unavoidable noise and vibrations, operators still have a responsibility to minimise disturbance wherever possible. It is vital that they demonstrate that they have used ‘due diligence’ to control any potential disruption to the local community caused by their movements. But what are the challenges surrounding noise disturbance caused by rail freight operations and what areas does Logistics UK – as the business group representing the logistics industry – recommend that government and industry focus on to help keep noise and vibration to a minimum?

What is being done?

Noise pollution can affect our mental and physical health, so reducing disturbance from UK railways is a key issue for government and industry to overcome. Most railway noise can be attributed to older, heavy freight trains ‘rolling’ on the tracks, but noise from equipment, brakes, depots and aerodynamics, as well as curve squeal, are also contributors. When government and rail operators consider new rail paths, planning applications and the placement of Strategic Rail Freight Interchanges (SRFI), potential noise and vibration implications to the local community are also considered. Network Rail reviews its rail tracks regularly and undertakes maintenance where needed to limit or eradicate the impact of vibrations on nearby buildings. Noise production varies according to the environment, with operators needing to consider the impact that certain factors – such as the landscape, traffic density and population levels – could have on the management of disturbance levels. Because of these variations, a tailored approach to each stretch of line is required.

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