Noisy freight wagons will effectively be banned from the German national rail network from December 2020.

GERMANY: Noisy freight wagons will effectively be banned from the national rail network from the December 13 2020 timetable change, after Federal Transport Minister Alexander Dobrindt announced on March 30 that the Bundestag had passed legislation requiring the use of low-noise freight wagons as part of his ‘Quiet Rail Strategy’.

Wagon will be required to generate no more noise than a new vehicle conforming to the European noise TSI. It will be acceptable for wagons to be fitted with composite brake blocks provided that this requirement is met. Enforcement will be the responsibility of the Federal Railway Office, which will be able to impose fines of up to 50 000 for non-compliance.

‘We want to improve mobility and at the same time halve levels of railway noise by 2020’, said Dobrindt. ‘To this end we are promoting the conversion of freight wagons to use quiet technology, investing in rail infrastructure and tightening the rules. By banning noisy freight wagons we are giving an additional incentive to convert old wagons and we are protecting lineside residents from railway noise. In this way rail freight becomes more acceptable.’

The move was welcomed by industry association VDB, which said that ‘for the owners of quiet wagons, new or converted, it is clear that from the end of 2020 rail freight will not be economic if noisy wagons are used.’

The decision may not be welcomed by the European Commission which was seeking more widespread agreement about moves to reduce railway noise across the EU before measures were implemented. It has argued that measures introduced by individual countries could fall foul of interoperability regulations as operators or wagon keepers in other countries could be disadvantaged.