die belebende Bedenkung

HS2 and noise pollution

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High scream 2 (after Edvard Munch) Transport secretary Philip Hammond told Channel 4 news that the government would spend £215 million on noise control measures for the proposed London – Midlands HS2 high speed railway, “erecting wooden barriers, constructing tunnels and building trees” (sic) along the route:

“We’re going to be building acoustic fences, we’re going to be building earth mounds along the side of the railway, contouring the landscape to try to minimise the noise impacts on surrounding communities – planting trees both to help with noise and to provide visual screening of the noise barriers and the railway itself.”

According to consultants Booz, without noise abatement, 25,000 properties would be affected – but “only” 4,700 with control measures in place.

High speed rail has the potential to cause very serious noise disturbance, and the faster trains travel, the bigger the problem is. In marketing material for its AGV train, manufacturer Alstom admitted that:

“Normally, a modern train running at 330 kph generates twice as much noise as when it is running at 300 kph.”

In terms of absolute sound levels, the biggest mitigator would be to put distance between people, and the noise nuisance itself – but in densely populated Britain, that’s easier said than done. The zone of HS2 intolerable sound would obviously be far wider than the nominal “22 metre” fenced p-way; and the zone of annoying sound, even wider still.

HS2 passengers wouldn’t be affected, because trains would probably follow Eurostar in having double glazed non-opening windows, and be pressure sealed. When such a train fails, passengers may resort to smashing windows to get fresh air:

Eurostar says it still doesn’t know what caused the mechanical fault that led to around 600 passengers being stranded on a train for five hours.

Police received reports of passengers on the 17.15 London-to-Paris service smashing windows to get air into the carriages of the train, which was stuck just miles from the station.

To a considerable extent, HS2 noise mitigation is an exercise in exchanging one type of environmental degradation, for another. If large sound fences are installed alongside the track, that would have a corresponding visual impact. The view from the trains wouldn’t be particularly appealing, either.

One Response

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  1. we are experiencing dreadful noise which is created by the upline Pendalino train traveling at 125 mls. ph.from birmingham to london.This has happened recently.After emails and letters from affected residents,network rail came to my house and then to a house nearer to the line.In my personal opinion he was quite shocked by the noise,He then went on to the track to see for himself presumably, the state of the rail.Quite some time later he returned and explained that he had been talking to some engineers and
    apparently the Pendalino trains have had a problem over this stretch of track, a warning light came on when it reached this spot (which is behind a tree opposite our home)Network rail then ground down the offending piece of rail which has resulted in this ‘roar’. He has now arranged for engeers to come and visit
    on the 22nd. July. If this is the noise of FS2 then then there are going to be some very tired and poorly people living near to it, It starts at 06.07 and carries on until 23.07 some days vary but about every 10 mins.through the day. We are a group of people who have lived here for 11 to 50 years we have enjoyed the train of all shapes and sizes and noises they are part of our landscape we are not against train in any way .

    Hilary Warren

    July 13, 2011 at 7:06 am

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