As pointed out in the White paper for European transport, the aim of the European rail operators is to increase the market share of goods traffic from 8% in 2001 to 15% in 2020. Nightly time slots will play an important role in this. Railway vibration annoyance and sleep disturbance in residential areas is a potential show stopper for this increase.
The aim of CARGOVIBES is to develop and assess measures to ensure acceptable levels of vibration for residents living in the vicinity of freight railway lines, in order to facilitate the extension of freight traffic on rail.
Existing evaluation criteria in use are deemed too strict and not based on relevant surveys. There are no uniform assessment methods available and knowledge about mitigation measures is fractured and hardly common. In this project the right criteria will be established, given the characteristics of freight traffic. Existing mitigation measures for conventional railway are not directly applicable to freight trains which generate a different soil vibration pattern than conventional railways in terms of vibration amplitudes and frequency contents. Viable efficient new mitigation measures for freight rail traffic will be designed and validated.
The project focuses on:
- Criteria for the evaluation of the adverse effects. These criteria will be formulated as extensions of current guidelines;
- A protocol for the assessment of the effect of mitigation measures;
- Three new mitigation measures: a measure for the rolling stock, one for the track and one in the propagation path. These measures will be pilot tested and validated in service;
- Catalogue of mitigation measures, for use of railway community.
To ensure that the project will generate products that can readily put to use, a Board of End Users will be put into place which will judge intermediate results and guide the developments in the course of the project.
In operational terms, the project produced the following:
- A guideline on the evaluation of adverse effects, for use of engineering companies doing environmental impact studies and for use of policy makers seeking to balance costs and benefits of rail traffic. The guideline includes exposure-response relationships for annoyance, some general conclusions on the influence on sleep and a table which summarizes the amount of (extremely) annoyed for given criteria in different standards and guidelines.
- Three new mitigation measures targeted at freight traffic, designed, tested and demonstrated, for use by the railway industry:
- A measure for the rolling stock: a wheel maintenance scheme, as an alteration on existing maintenance schemes, targeting what is found to be the main source of vibration that can be influenced by maintenance - wheel defects.
- Two measures for ballasted track, based on existing products. One is the application of undersleeper pads (USPs), especially 'wavy' USPs, for stabilising the track, that may reduce track deterioration and related vibration. The other is the application of H-sleepers, specially designed heavier sleepers that also reduce track deterioration. Other track based measures, a super-elastic rail support aimed at reducing vibration from switches, and ladder track, an alternative sleeper system, were investigated, designed and laboratory tested, but are still in the design face.
- A measure in the propagation path: the coated ground wall. This is a concrete wall, coated with elastomer, with a balance between coating thickness and wall depth.
CargoVibes will produce a guideline on how to assess and measure the effects of mitigation measures. The guideline will explicitly take into account the situation dependency of the measure effect, making it possible to translate assessment results in one situation to a different one. This way, mitigation performance data sheets can be built, filled in with assessment results and the way these can be translated to any given situation. The guideline will be brought into use by railway planners and railway industry.
The project will also treat scaled laboratory tests. These kinds of tests are of great use for new types of mitigation measures that have been developed based on models and for which direct implantation would involve too much risk. The scaled laboratory tests will be used by developers and suppliers of mitigation solutions.
CargoVibes produces guidance that is based on new and existing surveys and on new and existing research into health effects focused on night-time freight traffic. The document is intended to provide an extension to the currently available body of guidance in light of the current state-of-the-art knowledge. The CargoVibes extension set will be brought into use by policy makers, railway operators and planners. With it, they will evaluate current policies on environmental impact assessments, current operations and plans and decide whether mitigation measures are needed. It will lead to less adverse effects, as it takes a broader spectrum of effects into account, and to more efficient allocation of resources.