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Quieter trains in Germany

Good news for people living beside railway tracks in Germany: over 50,000 freight wagons, 80% of DB's fleet, have been fitted with "whisper" brakes.

The new brake pads are made of a synthetic composite that abrades the surface of wheels far less than conventional cast iron brake blocks. These new brakes cut noise by ten decibels, which translates into 50% less noise as perceived by the human ear.

Speaking at DB's maintenance depot in the Cologne suburb of Gremberg, Alexander Doll, Member of the Management Board for Finance, Freight Transport and Logistics, said, "One of our high-priority goals is to substantially reduce rail noise levels for people living beside tracks. Working with our customers, we aim to move more cargo to the rails, an environmentally friendly option. This will only happen if our freight trains become noticeably quieter. Upgrading our freight wagons with low-noise brakes represents a major contribution to this undertaking".

DB Cargo's remaining 13,000 freight wagons operating in Germany will be fitted with the low-noise brakes by the end of 2020. After subsidies, the project will cost the company a total of some EUR 200 million, not only because of the refitting process itself, but also because of higher long-term maintenance costs. The new brakes do not last as long and must therefore be replaced more frequently.

"We want DB to be a quieter, better neighbour to everyone, especially where rail freight traffic is concerned. To achieve this, we have introduced noise-differentiated track access charges and we are investing over EUR 150 million in government subsidies to fit wagons with whisper brakes. In addition, starting at the end of next year, loud freight wagons will not be permitted to use the German rail network. We are implementing this measure and others such as noise mitigation to protect people living next to rail lines in a practical, noticeable manner," said Gerhard Schulz, junior minister at the German Ministry for Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

Work to reduce noise beside busy lines continues apace In 2018, the German government and DB invested some EUR 100 million in noise barriers, soundproof windows and other features as part of the voluntary noise abatement programme. In concrete terms, over 40 km of noise barriers were built in 2018, and over 2,240 homes were upgraded with noise insulation. Since the programme began, noise control measures have been implemented for over 1,800 km of track.

To learn more, visit: www.deutschebahn.com/laermschutz