R1.128 Enhanced Rail Noise Mitigation and Management Approaches for the Australian Rail Industry

The rail industry needs to manage a range of noise issues, most of which can be tackled without the need for research. However, there are two rail noise aspects for which research and industry adoption are crucial to achieving progress:

  • Curve noise, an acute noise phenomenon that is yet to be fully explained by theory, and

  • Rolling noise, for which the adoption of existing theory can enable industry to move beyond reliance on noise barriers as the only practical option for noise mitigation, particularly for rail growth projects.

Both of these issues represent significant problems and substantial cost for the Australian rail industry, in addition to the wider community. Direct costs for the industry involve:

  • Protracted effort to mitigate and manage curve noise via monitoring, wayside detection systems, rolling stock inspections/maintenance, friction management and community interaction

  • The high cost burden of noise barriers for rail development projects (typically over $3m per km and 5 to 10% of total project cost).

There are also significant indirect costs. These include delays to projects owing to community resistance, reputational damage and the undermining of rail's otherwise impressive environmental credentials. But there is also emerging evidence of the costs of the health impacts of transport noise in the community (estimated at $250m per annum, based on a recent European Study). Given the above, the proposed project is conservatively estimated to deliver economic benefits exceeding $12m per annum.

The project builds on the preceding CRC project (R1.105 Rail Noise Stage 1) to arrive at validated methods of noise management tailored to the Australian rail operating environment. Stage 1 established the current state of applicable knowledge and treatments for noise both for existing infrastructure and for new developments. The overriding objective of this project is to drive industry adoption of the research outcomes.