Ghan train aerial

The Ghan rail line is instantly recognisable: both a tourist attraction and an important part of Australian history. Yet its ageing infrastructure and rough terrain poses considerable noise challenges. Here’s how acoustic consultants overcame these issues with an innovative lightweight panel.

The Ghan offers a highly unique experience from another era. Regarded as one of the world’s greatest rail journeys this 774m long train travels the distance from city to city from Darwin to Adelaide, travelling via Alice Springs and featuring stunning topographical vistas.

Part of the Great Southern Rail network the epic distance travelling 2,979km stretches the entire network of remote outposts. Recent refurbishment in 2019 marks 90 years of outback crossings with the private cabins receiving a facelift.

The challenges

However, the diesel locomotive-driven train naturally experiences noise control challenges from wheel contact on the railroad track. When the metal train wheelset encounters roughness and irregularities on rail surfaces it creates noise and vibration.

Rail joints on the rail cause the familiar clickety-clack as the carriage wheels roll over and repeatedly make contact.

The solutions

Originally addressing the project adequately, acoustic consultants worked to ensure a complete noise control system was detailed, firstly with a suitable vibration damping coating applied to the walls and floor to address resonance and transfer.

From there, the inclusion of Subdue, a lightweight multilayered panel, served as an integrated, highly effective noise barrier used to provide strength and good sound insulation for the flooring.

It is used at the appropriate thickness to isolate the cabin between what is below, forming the ideal base for the beautifully distinctive, heritage carpet.

Notably, the subdue flooring was carefully isolated from the train structure using specialised Sylomer material to break transmission paths for any noise from below.

Suitable for a fitted floor foundation, Subdue provides an effective and unique damping system to absorb and reduce excess mechanical energy (noise) generated when wheels make contact with metal track, transferring through into the carriage.

With expertise provided in the late 1980-90’s, the original flooring template was supplied in large, rigid, full scale floor pieces. This meant they were custom-cut to fit as one solid, long piece per carriage to lay into this legendary train.

Prior to today’s era and laser cut technology, this was beneficial to overcome logistical challenges, but also for smarter craftsmanship and better installation. Less material working during install or cutting on site means the ability to reduce install complexity, and provide join-less noise barrier protection.

The results

The custom-cut Subdue successfully achieved a quieter journey, where passengers connect with the land within a lovely atmosphere.

An experience of luxury, highly reminiscent of a golden era, the Ghan was recently shown as part of the SBS ‘Slow TV’ series, The Ghan.

Guests on board enjoy the comfort and solitude to lose themselves in conversation with newfound travelling companions, or simply gaze out of the window taking inspiration from the ever changing landscape.

Sleeping in on an overnight train can be quite an experience rarely taken. Thankfully on the Ghan, the endearing, subtle rattle along the tracks is soothing and does not disturb with every uncomfortable bump along the way.

The Ghan already offers an Australian outback adventure with five star sumptuous dining and high quality service and elegant, thoughtfully-designed private cabins. Subdue ensured that the experience was unforgettable for all the right reasons.


This partner content is brought to you by Pyrotek. Working in Australia and internationally to develop innovative noise mitigation solutions, Pyrotek has been specified by the world’s leading acoustic consultants. For more information, visit

Related articles

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


©2022 Infrastructure Magazine. All rights reserved


We're not around right now. But you can send us an email and we'll get back to you, asap.


Log in with your credentials

Forgot your details?