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‘SILENCE’ reigns at urban rail transport seminar

On 17 January 2008, railway stakeholders gathered at UIC headquarters in Paris to discuss new measures for reducing noise in the city environment. The EU-funded SILENCE project is delivering integrated technologies, systems and methodologies for the efficient control of urban noise as well as practical tools for their implementation.

Paris metro © Peter Gutierrez
Paris metro
© Peter Gutierrez

“By working together, SILENCE project partners, including train and track manufacturers and railways operators, have developed new concepts, technologies and prototypes, delivering measurable noise reductions of 5 to 8 dB,” says SNCF Scientific and Technical Director Pierre-Etienne Gautier. “Each partner has brought relevant experience and know-how, as well as expertise from other sectors to find new solutions to transport-related problems such as diesel motor noise.”

A piercing problem

Although noise limits have become increasingly stringent over the years, no corresponding reduction in noise levels in urban areas has been observed. Therefore, European noise policy has been revised to focus on noise perception, to avoid the harmful effects of noise exposure from all sources, and to preserve quiet areas.

SILENCE (‘Quieter surface transport in urban areas’), launched in 2005, is developing an integrated system of methodologies and technologies for the efficient control of perceived urban traffic noise, taking into account the overall needs of city authorities with respect to noise from individual traffic (on road) and mass transport (on rail and road).

The SILENCE seminar
SILENCE comes to Paris

“We believe that the availability of better and more cost-effective solutions for reducing railway noise in urban areas will help cities to create more realistic and effective noise-abatement action plans,” says Gautier, “and this will ultimately benefit all EU citizens living in urban areas.”

Comprehensive approach to city noise abatement

The main objective of SILENCE has been to improve control of surface transport noise in urban areas. This includes:

  • Control of noise at source
  • Noise propagation
  • Noise creation
  • Human perception

The project is divided into different subprojects and work areas, each concentrating on a specific noise-related issue. The subprojects are:

  • Noise perception, annoyance
  • Global modelling
  • Vehicle/tyre/road interaction
  • Road vehicle noise
  • Rail vehicle noise
  • Road surface
  • Railway infrastructure and operation
  • Road traffic flow
  • City planning

Project partners include city authorities, public urban transport operators, national operators of railway traffic and road/rail infrastructure, public research institutes and universities, research and engineering companies, European associations, vehicle manufacturers and integrators, suppliers of equipment, systems and technology for vehicles/infrastructure, and finally, specialist SMEs.

Pierre-Etienne Gautier
Pierre-Etienne Gautier

The SILENCE project is also working in close co-operation with other complementary research initiatives and taking into account the outcome of previous research projects.

All good

The SILENCE seminar in Paris was aimed specifically at informing railway stakeholders of the innovative results of SILENCE railway activities. Presentations included work on engines, tracks and wheels, and cooling systems.

“The seminar was definitely a success,” says Gautier. “More than 70 participants from all stakeholders discussed and shared views on the results of the project and their practical future implementation.”

Partners say the positive results of SILENCE will benefit the overall population of the EU and will contribute to an improved quality of life for European citizens. Advanced noise reduction technologies and methodologies will also help to ensure the global competitiveness of European rail transport industry.