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COWI develops new model for measuring vibrations and noise from rail traffic

Photo: COWI
​COWI has designed a new, innovative concept for calculating building exposure to vibrations and noise from rail traffic. The model has been adopted by Rail Net Denmark (Banedanmark), which will use it for future track projects. COWI's model has also sparked widespread industry interest.

​The new model allows Rail Net Denmark to calculate, with great accuracy, how buildings near railway sections are affected by vibrations and noise. Such knowledge is especially relevant in connection with the new high-speed railways.

"Vibrations and noise generated by rail projects may cause significant inconvenience for residents of neighbouring properties and may even lead to health problems. Consequently, to best protect neighbours from nuisances caused by rail traffic, we need to have accurate calculations. Such calculations build on a massive amount of measurements made in neighbouring properties of vibrations and noise generated by rail traffic," explains Market Director Jacob Egede Andersen from COWI.

COWI's model was developed for Rail Net Denmark over the course of the past three years. Rail Net Denmark has made the vibration model available to all future track projects, regardless of who wins the specific consultancy contracts. In addition, in the next three years, COWI will oversee the operation of a web app developed based on the model. The app is a useful tool for consultants that are involved in assessing vibrations and noise for Rail Net Denmark. 

The vibration model will also be used by COWI Sweden on a high-speed section at Borås. Furthermore, the model has been adjusted to meet the demands of the Copenhagen Metro and the Odense Tramway project.

The industry has also taken a great interest in COWI's new model. For instance, Danish Rockdelta, which is part of the Rockwool group, which manufactures vibration-dampening insulation material for railways. Austrian Getzner and Italian Isolgomma have also expressed their interest in the model.

Facts on COWI's vibration model

  • ​Developed by COWI, Rail Net Denmark's new vibration model is a tool for calculating vibrations and noise in buildings, caused by nearby rail traffic.
  • The vibration model is optimised to suit Danish conditions in terms of train and track types, typical geologies and building types. The model has been calibrated based on a vast number of measurements of train passages collected from 16 different locations in Denmark. Thereby, more than 90 per cent of all track systems are covered.
  • The concept for COWI's model is that a specific source strength of a train type – when corrected for speed, track type, geology, distance to building, and building properties – can be used for providing estimates of vibrations and noise in nearby properties.
  • The model's accuracy is within 3 dB. In comparison, existing models have an accuracy in the range of 10 dB. The reasons for the higher accuracy is that COWI has measured a wealth of train passages (some 1,900) and included data on geology and building vibration from other COWI projects. 

LAST UPDATED: 20.07.2017