by Andreas Göschl, Tittmoning, STRAILastic
In Germany, the tolerance threshold for railway noise and interference, e.g. in the landscape and the railway embankment biotope, is comparatively low. To counter high noise levels, metres-high, opaque sound barriers that flank the railway lines are often erected. These create a large visual blight on the landscape and restrict views from the trains. However, new sound protection systems from STRAILastic provide an alternative solution which, when used in combination, can reduce noise levels significantly without impacting the landscape and obstructing views.
Fight railway noise at its source
Noise is most effectively reduced along the propagation path at the source. This is why modern sound protection systems are designed to get as close to the rail/wheel interface and clearance area as possible.
The sound protection products by STRAILastic comply with all prescribed minimum kinematic envelope dimensions and distances to maximise noise reduction whilst ensuring no operational impediments occur.
A special combination of high-quality UV and ozone-resistant rubber, with stable fibre reinforcement to counter the pressure and suction forces from rail traffic, allows these products to be installed at the shortest possible distance from the point of noise generation – the contact surface of wheel and rail.
The regional railway line in nordhorn
On a section of the Bentheim railway line in Nordhorn in western Lower Saxony, Germany, a project undertaken in mid-2019 demonstrates how sound propagation from a railway embankment can be effectively limited by reducing noise without obstructing the view.
A sound protection solution was needed for a section of railway, adjacent to a still-to-be-developed construction area where a building permit had been granted.
Due to a dense stock of trees, there was no direct line of sight between the railway and the construction site, but this would not provide sufficient noise protection in autumn when their noise insulating effect would be reduced by a loss of foliage.
Furthermore, the construction area was in the immediate vicinity of a bridge over the Nordhorn-Almelo canal, which needed to be taken into consideration when planning suitable noise measures.
According to a specially prepared noise report, there were two options for reducing noise: constructing a 6m-high sound barrier or installing the sound protection measures from STRAILastic.
The solution was to combine three sound protection products from STRAILastic in the vicinity of the bridge and its access ramps on both sides of the track over a length of around 240m:
- STRAILastic_A inox 2.0 is the latest version of the STRAILastic_A rail web dampers, internationally proven for years
- STRAILastic_lP vertical panels create peace and quiet by using the existing structures. The infill panels can be mounted directly onto standard bridge railings and the reverse side of the panels can even be customised to perfectly blend into their surroundings
- STRAILastic_mSW is a mini sound protection wall 390mm high attached to the sleeper ends which gets closer to the source of noise than any other existing sound barrier
The combined solution met all of the client’s noise control requirements, while also perfectly blending into the landscape, with alumiuim patterned panels attached on the obverse side.
Importantly, a key decisive selection criterion for STRAILastic products was that in all cases no planning approval procedure is required for their use on the track.
All products have been approved by the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) and they can be individually adapted during the planning phase, and within certain limits also during installation, as required.
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