Germany’s Quiet Rail Strategy passes final legal hurdle
Legislation to end noisy freight trains in Germany has passed the final hurdle in the process, ensuring that the country’s Quiet Rail Strategy will become a reality within the next four years. Rail operators will need to retrofit existing wagons with new ‘whisper’ brakes or face being fined up to 50,000 Euros.
Welcoming the final passage of the legislation in Germany’s second parliamentary chamber, the Bundesrat, the German Pro-Rail Alliance (Allianz Pro Scheine) is now pushing for a European Union-wide ban on noisy freight trains by the end of 2020.
Dirk Flege, Executive Director of the alliance, said: “This is a very good place to go – the Pro-Rail Alliance has been committed to a complete noise abatement overhaul of the freight wagon fleet. A strict and clear ban on noisy goods wagons in Germany is the rail freight sector’s declared wish.”
The alliance said it now agreed with the reduced number of exceptions contained in the final version of the legislation, as the exception clause was intended to avoid conflicts with EU regulations. “This is a good enough message to the owners of noisy wagons,” said Flege.
More legal certainty
The rail freight sector, it added, has been unanimous in its calls for this legislation, because German freight wagon owners invest considerable sums of money on the expensive retro-fitting of quieter brakes, and there is a need for more legal certainty.
After 13 December 2020, freight wagons will not be able to cause any more noise than one which has received an operating licence, according to the European noise protection directive (TSI) applicable to new vehicles. But the retrofitting of whisper brake technology will enable operators to adhere to the new regulations.
The Quiet Rail Strategy has three main strands: noise protection at the source, including the upgrading of freight wagons and innovations for quieter trains; noise protection on the track; including noise abatement measures such as barriers and soundproof windows; and, as in this case, regulation such as a ban on noisy wagons.
A summary of the legislation passed by the Bundesrat can be viewed online (in German only).