Steve Cox is Technical Development Director with Pandrol Rail Fastenings Ltd. a major, worldwide supplier of track fastening systems. He graduated from Cambridge University in England in 1982 with a degree in Mechanical Engineering. Since then has worked at Pandrol, first in their research department, and more recently on development of new products for the control of railway noise and vibration. He managed Pandrol's involvement in the European Union research project Silent Track on railway noise, and the European Union research project CONVURT on railway vibration.
Railways generate noise and vibration as trains pass along the track. It is usually noise that ultimately causes annoyance to those above or alongside the track, but this noise is often generated as a result of vibrations transmitted along and away from the track. This presentation will describe some different categories of problems that involve railway generated noise and vibration, and then provide examples of how each of these was addressed in particular cases. The examples given include studies drawn from a number of European railway research projects. Ground-borne vibration at the surface above railway tunnels; airborne noise from trains passing at grade; and noise from trains passing over structures such as viaducts and bridges are each considered in turn. All have different characteristics. The use of suitable rail fastening systems for control of each of these problems will also be discussed. Selection of rail fastening systems, and in particular their stiffness, to control railway noise and vibration is always a compromise. In many cases the compromise is with aspects unrelated to noise, but is necessary to ensure the safe operation and long-term reliability of the railway. In light if the increased interest in high-speed rail in the US, the particular issues of noise and vibration from high-speed railways will be discussed in more detail.