Image: Deutsche Bahn AG / Oliver Lang DB beschleunigt Lärmschutz im Güterverkehr

DB Cargo: after wagons, now locomotive fleet with quieter brakes

After all of its wagons, DB Cargo is now equipping all of its locomotives with silent brakes. By 2025, all 850 electric mainline locomotives will be running with quieter disc brakes. The German rail freight operator announced this new target on Wednesday 28 April, along with the DB’s annual noise protection report.

Today, 90 per cent of DB Cargo’s locomotives are already equipped with quieter disc brakes. A binding ramp-up now applies to the remaining ten per cent of the vehicles. In future, DB Cargo will only purchase freight wagons with innovative noise protection components. Quieter brakes result in quieter train rides, and consequently less noise pollution by the railway industry.

Noise reduction in Germany

Reducing noise pollution is a common goal of the rail freight industry, and Germany has been at the forefront. By 2030, its federal government and Deutsche Bahn want to relieve half of all residents from railway noise. Retrofitting the current fleet with silent breaks is one of the measures taken.

Instead of iron cast brakes, composite brake blocks are used. These roughen the wheels much less than the conventional brakes. As a result, the perceptible noise emissions during a journey are reduced by ten decibels, which is perceived by the human ear as half the noise.

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Composite brake pads

Quieter and greener

Last year, DB Cargo concluded the retrofitting of 63 thousand wagons with quieter brakes. Sigrid Nikutta, CEO of DB Cargo commented: “We as DB are making it unmistakably clear in the European Year of the Rail: the future belongs to green rail, it forms the backbone of our traffic and cargo flows. The railway will be even quieter and greener in the future. “After the successful retrofitting of our freight wagons, our mainline locomotives are now on their way. By purchasing only new locomotives with disc brakes, our DB freight trains will be much quieter across the country for the foreseeable future.”

In order to further reduce rail traffic noise, DB Cargo will also phase out diesel locomotives of the 232/233 series by 2030. These high-emission vehicles from Soviet times will reach their end service after more than 50 years of use. Moreover, millions are to be invested in noise protection along the railway lines.

Noise pollution halved

The noise protection report presented by DB Cargo on Wednesday showed that thanks to the measures already taken, rail traffic noise was already halved in the past year: by retrofitting the entire wagon fleet of DB Cargo alone and through the federal noise abatement programme.

At the end of 2020, the mark of more than 2,000 kilometers of noise-reduced traveling was broken for the first time. In 2019 this figure was 1,844 kilometers. Over 75 kilometers of new noise protection walls were completed last year along the existing routes and around 146 million euros were invested in this.

Author: Majorie van Leijen

Majorie van Leijen is editor of RailFreight.com, online magazine for rail freight professionals.

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