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Air pollution

The limitation of the atmospheric emissions is addressed in a generic way in Directive 97/68EC on the internal combustion engines to be installed in non-road mobile machinery. It fixes emission limits, according to a timetable of implementation in two stages; a method of test of the emissions, and it determines a marketing authorisation procedure of engines respecting the criteria. The engines concerned have a power lower than 560 kW and the railway applications are excluded from the scope of this directive. 

The Commission proposed at the end of December 2002 to amend this Directive (see:  COM(2002)765)  by introducing a third stage with more binding emission limits and including in the scope of this directive a part of the railway applications as a function of the power of their engine. The European Parliament and the Council wish the strengthening of these mechanisms. Discussions are in progress and are expected to end in 2004.

Noise

The principal source of rail noise is the rail-wheel interaction. This problem concerns of course both the transport of passengers and freight, but it is much acute for freight wagons.

To reduce rail noise at its source the Commission adopted in 2002 a decision concerning the technical specification for interoperability relating to the "Rolling stock" including noise limit values for high speed trains.

For the conventional rail, the Commission adopted on 23 December 2005 a decision concerning the technical specification for interoperability relating to the noise of rolling stock, published in OJ L 37 of 8 February 2006. This Decision introduced for the first time noise limits for rolling stock used in the European Union. These limits apply to new and renewed rolling stock including freight wagons. New freight wagons have to be equipped with low-noise brake blocks (such as so-called K-blocks) reducing the noise by about 50%.

However, due to the long lifetime of rolling stock (and the logarithmic nature of noise), it will take several years before the overall noise emissions from freight trains can be reduced significantly if no additional measures addressing the existing fleet are introduced.

In this context the European Commission recently adopted a Communication on rail noise abatement measures addressing the existing fleet as part of the 'Greening Transport' package.

Related documents

Legislation

Decision of 23 December 2005 concerning the technical specification for interoperability relating to the subsystem ‘rolling stock — noise’ of the trans-European conventional rail system

Decisions of 30 May 2002 concerning the technical specification for interoperability

Public consultation

Rail noise abatement measures addressing the existing fleet

Events

Workshop on low-noise brake block technology and homologation

http://ec.europa.eu/transport/rail/environment/noise_en.htm