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has been adopted on 8 July 2008


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18 October 2007


Public consultations

|Progress in developing an integrated safe and interoperable European Railway area (deadline 30/09/2008)
|Measures for a 'rail network giving priority to freight' (deadline 05/08/2008)
|ERTMS: the European Deployment Plan (deadline 28/02/2008)
|Multiannual contracts for rail infrastructure quality (deadline 12/09/2007)

|Rail noise abatement measures addressing the existing fleet

(deadline 31/07/2007)

Public consultation on "Rail noise abatement measures addressing the existing fleet"

The European Commission has analysed the question of rail noise in two major policy areas: transport and the environment.

EU transport policy, as recently reaffirmed in the 2006 Mid-term Review of the White Paper of 2001, calls for effective and efficient transport systems offering high quality services, environmental protection, innovation and international connections. The development of a European Community rail area would meet these objectives in a sustainable manner, as it would ensure high energy efficiency and a low level of pollutants' emissions. However, the impact of rail noise might result in restrictions to rail freight traffic along the most important European rail corridors.

The environmental policy of the European Union “aims at a high level of protection” in particular regarding human health. Article 7(1) of the Sixth Environmental Action Programme sets the target of “substantially reducing the number of people regularly affected by long-term average levels of noise, in particular from traffic[,] which, according to scientific studies, causes detrimental effects on human health”. The renewed Sustainable Development Strategy adopted in 2006 by the Council sets out overall objectives, targets and concrete actions for seven key priority challenges for the period to 2010, one of which is sustainable transport. One of the operational targets set for this key priority is "reducing transport noise both at source and through mitigation measures to ensure overall exposure levels minimise impacts on health".

In line with these policies, the overall target for rail noise abatement programmes addressing the existing fleet should therefore be to reduce the number of people regularly affected by rail noise, by means of abatement measures with the highest cost-effectiveness ratio and health benefits.

Given that the lack of appropriate mitigating measures may be a serious threat to the development of rail traffic, the European Commission intends to adopt a Communication on rail noise which will cover abatement measures for the existing fleet in spring 2008.

The Commission services wish to present several policy options to the industry, in particular the railway undertakings, to other actors concerned (such as wagon keepers, infrastructure managers, freight shippers and forwarders), to associations representing the rail sector and others concerned (municipalities, local and regional authorities, and NGOs) as well as to the Member States of the European Union.

The problem and the objectives of this initiative as well as the policy options are described in a  consultation document.

The interested parties have been requested to give their opinion on the solutions presented until 31 July 2007.

For the results of the public consultation see the summary of the contributions received. Based on the feedback received in this consultation the Commission's services carry out the impact assessment and will subsequently draft the Communication on measures to decrease rail noise addressing the existing fleet.

On the basis of this consultation paper, the Commission services also convened the interested parties on 23 May 2007 to seek their views on the solutions put forward in this document. Further information on this event can be found on the environment chapter.

Thank you very much for having participated in this public consultation.



last update: 15-12-2008