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The VCD has an article explaining the conflict:

VCD Bamberg: "Die Stadt, die Bahn und der Lärm" | Bahnsinn-Bamberg VCD Bamberg% u201CDie city, the railway and the noise% u201D | Railway sense Bamberg
Schnell stellte sich heraus, dass nicht der ICE der (Lärm-)Gegner ist. Im Gegenteil: Nur des Neubaus für den ICE wegen wird es großzügigen Lärmschutz geben. Und zwar Schutz gegen Lärm, den wir bisher schon immer haben: gegen den Lärm der Güterzüge (die viel lauter sind als der ICE).It quickly became clear that not the ICE is (noise-) enemy. In the contrary, only because of the construction for the ICE there will be ample protection against noise. Namely protection against existing noise: the noise of freight trains (which are much louder than the ICE).
Warum wird der Lärmschutz nicht heute schon, ohne Bezug auf den ICE, verbessert? Weil: Für die bis jetzt befahrenen Strecken ist der gesetzlich zugestandene Lärmschutz deutlich schwächer; die Güterzüge können rumpeln, so viel sie wollen (,,Bestandsschutz"). Für Neubaustrecken ist heute ein deutlich stärkerer Lärmschutz verbürgt. Der Umbau durch Bamberg ist so weitreichend, dass er unter die Anforderungen für Neubau fällt.Why is the noise protection not already improved, without reference to the ICE? Because: For the existing routes the legally conceded noise protection is much weaker, the rumbling freight trains can make noise as much as they want (% u201EBestandsschutz% u201D). For new lines now a much stronger noise protection is guaranteed. The conversion of Bamberg is so broad that it falls within the requirements for new construction.
Der Lärm ist zuviel und soll weniger werden - aber wie? Das Eisenbahnbundesamt erkennt bisher als Standard nur die Lärmschutzwand an. Deswegen ist auch für Bamberg sofort ,,die Mauer" angesetzt worden. So eine ,,Mauer" gibt es übrigens in Bamberg bereits (am Berliner Ring); man kann jedenfalls nicht so tun, als stünde ein vollkommen neues Gespenst vor der Tür. Aber schließlich geht es nicht darum, ob wir eine Mauer bekommen oder nicht, sondern darum, den Lärm weg zu bekommen. Es gibt glücklicherweise auch andere Mittel gegen den Schienenlärm, vor allem Mittel, die schon die Entstehung des Lärms einschränken. Sie werden bereits in Pilotprojekten erprobt - und Bamberg könnte sich zu einem Pilotprojekt machen lassen.The noise is too much and should be less% u2013 but how? The Federal Railway Authority recognizes far as standard of only the noise barrier. Therefore, for Bamberg immediately u201Edie% wall% u201D has been scheduled. such a wall incidentally exists in Bamberg already (Berliner Ring), you can not pretend that a wholly new specter stood before the door. But ultimately it's not about whether we get a wall or not, but to get away from the noise. Fortunately, there are also other means to reduce rail noise, especially agents that already restrict the origin of the noise. They are already being tested in pilot projects u2013% and Bamberg could become a pilot project.

This makes sense: they want to force the DB to develop modern techniques against the noise. DB is legally required to reduce the noise, the standard measure (the 7m wall) is ridiculous,  that's the lever for the VCD (which is an organisation supporting railway and bike, not some NIMBY group). They want to force DB and authorities to be innovative.

by Katrin on Mon Sep 17th, 2012 at 04:53:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, that sounds a more reasonable argument...except that the railway has been there over a hundred years and all the housing around it is new. That area was all farms and manufacturing, in fact the whole east side of the railway used to be shielded by a colossal brewery maltings.

so, why should people who moved into the area when the railway was already there get to complain about it being noisy ?

I am reminded of a shocking example from the UK. A preserved steam railway built a workshop a long way out of town because of the noise of their working. then some bright spark built a new housing development nearby and forced the railway to move their workshop "because of the noise". I still can't work out how that is right.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Sep 17th, 2012 at 05:34:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The people have moved to the noisy area because it is cheap there. They have no legal means to force the railway to reduce the noise, because the line is older than noise protection legislation. The only exception: the DB wants to build something new. As they are doing now.

What would you do, if you were living there? I find it easy: there are modern methods of noise reduction, so DB can bloody well use them.

by Katrin on Mon Sep 17th, 2012 at 05:47:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In other words, a cross-subsidy from DB to owners of real estate in that area. I can see why DB would go with the cheap-and-ugly solution.

The reasonable distribution of those costs, given the fact that the city built around the rail rather than the other way around, would be for the city to spring for noise shielding. Or at least a non-trivial fraction of the cost.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 03:48:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The city isn't built around the railway. It's built around the river/canal and the railway is a kilometre to the east of the river.

The problem comes that the west bank of the river rises rather steeply and so the noise of the railway is rather more apparent from the medieval castle 1.5 km away than from the housing 2 or 3 streets from the trains.

but this is the 21st century. We know what trains sound like. They're there for a minute or two and then they're gone. I stayed at a hotel 100 metres from the railway and had my windows open all night. I heard the trains if I happened to be awake, but my sleep wasn't disturbed by them.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 03:58:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Neither of you has answered the question what you would do if you lived there. An appeal to see the common good doesn't convince me: DB is about to be privatised, so why should the people living next to the line treat them as serving the public interest?

Less noise will not immediately be a subsidy to real estate owners: Flats in areas like that are usually rented, not owned by the inhabitants. And you can't raise the rent for a slight decrease of noise.  

Noise from railways may be music for enthusiasts, but people have a right not to be enthusiasts.

To make this shorter: beware of sounding like the advocates of nukes of thirty years ago. If there is a broad movement against something we advocate, we are just making a mistake.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 07:03:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What kind of mistake?
by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 07:17:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The assumption that a plan was an advantage for everybody, and rejection could only be unreasonable.  

I had to google this particular protest and the more I read the more I like it. This movement is putting a finger on insufficient and outdated methods of noise protection. Well done.

by Katrin on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 07:40:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
people bought houses there because it was cheap (presumably, among other reasons because it was noisy because of the trains. so they should pay for the noise reduction given that they will benefit from the noise protection very directly (in higher house prices and/or rents).

Wind power
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sat Sep 22nd, 2012 at 01:52:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I doubt that many houses there are inhabitated by their owners. It's the tenants whose wellbeing will be increased from less noise. The reduction in noise isn't a legal reason to increase the rent though, so house-owners wouldn't have an interest in paying for noise-reduction.

Noise (and the costs of reducing it) is the responsibility of the emitter. Even if it hits the most environment-friendly sort of transport, the principle still is right. Noise damages the health of those who are exposed to it, because they can't afford to live elsewhere. This is not their responsibility, but that of the emitter, and that of the planning authorities.

Besides, the population can't force an emitter to develop new technologies. They can only force the emitters to carry the cost of not developing more efficient noise reduction.

by Katrin on Sat Sep 22nd, 2012 at 03:27:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed, polluter pays should apply to high speed rail and wind power just like it should apply to nuclear power.

I distribute. You re-distribute. He gives your hard-earned money to lazy scroungers. -- JakeS
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 03:54:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But in this case the polluter is freight traffic running on legacy plant, and the payer is passenger traffic running on new plant.

That's not "polluter pays." That's a cross-subsidy from non-polluting new plant to polluting legacy plant.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 03:58:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Where the funds will actually come from is a different matter. The planned construction gives activists an angle of attack to force DB to do something against the noise. This is a completely normal procedure.  
by Katrin on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 04:50:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It also gambles an unrelated new construction on DB's willingness to cough up the money to upgrade its legacy plant (something I still think the muni or state should spring for, since it's legacy plant).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 04:58:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the state will do so. Would you demand shifting the cost to the public if it wasn't a railway project?
by Katrin on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 05:08:44 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That would depend on the details. The question of when legacy plant must be upgraded, and at whose expense, is not amenable to quick rules of thumb. Demanding that legacy plant is upgraded based purely on the fact that newer technology exists is clearly unreasonable. Demanding that legacy plant be totally exempt from requirements to adopt modern technology is likewise unreasonable.

And yes, my decision would explicitly depend on whether I favor capacity expansion or retrenchment of that particular sector. In a sector where capacity expansion is desirable, it is more important to make certain that new plant is built to modern standards than dealing with legacy plant. Partly because technology will improve before the expansion is finished, meaning that upgrading before expansion will either leave you with a system which is not of uniform standard or require you to upgrade both before and after expansion.

We should not build new highways until funds have been secured for upgrading noise protection from existing highways. Pollution control measures should be used as an inroad to shut down coal burners ahead of schedule. But these are sectors where existing plant is adequate or excessive, not sectors which should be the focus of expansion.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 05:42:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
At this point, I must ask: what do you mean by "legacy plant"? In the Bamberg example, the existing two tracks will be replaced by four new tracks for higher speeds (also necessitating the partial or complete tearing down of some buildings on the northeast side of the tracks).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 02:21:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, there is a cross-subsidy-ish aspect, though lessened by the fact that (contrary to the implication of the article Katrin quoted) passenger traffic at higher speeds would be a similar polluter (see my longer comment downthread). But whether it is truly a cross-subsidy depends on the sharing of costs via track access charges.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 02:17:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Right. More pertinent, though: it should apply to car traffic, too. And you can't claim that the VCD isn't demanding that very thing.
by Katrin on Sun Sep 23rd, 2012 at 04:53:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hm. Up to here this whole sub-thread strikes me as a phantom debate: the Bamberg conflict is not over whether or not to build a noise protection, but the appearance of that noise protection and possible alternatives (be it a low noise protection wall or a bypass line outside the city).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 02:11:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
tbh, when I was moving around germany, I noticed a lot of work putting up sound deflectors along urban motorways and railways and felt it was a good measure. By making sure that track noise is reduced, a significant part of noise nuisance is removed.

I agree with that.

My entry into this debate was the demand that 7 metre barriers be used in Bamberg: Which is an obviously more significant and expensive structure than the fences I saw elsewhere. This seemed to my eyes an absurd visually intrusive over-protection and, if the excuse of protecting the medieval part of Bamberg is being used, very poorly justified.

You cannot eliminate noise in the urban environment and, just as with a flat overlooking a busy road, a flat right next to a railway may well have to accept a certain raised level of noise. I agree with the 2 metre walls being used elsewhere. It may, as you point out, spoil the view for enthusiasts, but it seems a reasonable thing to do. However, 7 metres is simply absurd.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 07:55:19 AM EST
[ Parent ]
How many dB of extra noise suppression do you get by building that high?

I would have thought anything thinner than a couple of m of concrete would be partly porous to sound anyway. It won't do much to eliminate LF vibration and rumble.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 08:08:24 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Umm you don't, but you cover the second floor and above of high rise buildings.

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 08:39:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
According to the VCD the 7m wall isn't what the movement demands. It is DB's answer and meant to discourage demands of modern noise protection.
by Katrin on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 08:58:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thinking about the configuration of the Bamberg noise wall, I just thought of another, simpler way to reduce the necessary wall height: a third wall in the middle. In DB's plans, there are noise protection walls only on the edges of the four-track cross section, so one wall has to contain noise up to 15 m away.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 02:33:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Their actions are perfectly reasonable given the rules of the game.

But those rules are silly: The alignment of a passenger capacity increase should not be influenced by pre-existing noise from freight which, unless the upgrade is expected to increase freight volumes as well. Now, noise shielding would be a perfectly worthwhile project to spend money on. And I happen to think that the German government should be spending a lot more money than it currently is. But tying it to the choice of through line upgrade vs. new bypass creates a perverse set of incentives. And diverting funds allotted to maintenance or capacity upgrades to cover that sort of legacy costs is unacceptable.

Tl,dr: Noise shielding from existing traffic should be decided (and funded) independently of decisions about new traffic.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Sep 18th, 2012 at 08:31:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
so, why should people who moved into the area when the railway was already there get to complain about it being noisy ?

Because the line is being upgraded for 200 km/h, which means a lot more noise. (And noise walls aren't built in reaction to complaints, but according to EU-level and national-level regulations that set noise limits.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 11:26:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the noise of freight trains (which are much louder than the ICE)

Hm. At the same speed, true. But a passenger train at 200 km/h is much noisier than at 100 km/h.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 11:30:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In more detail:

You can check limits for vehicles in the relevant Technical Specification of Interoperability (TSI). They correspond to noise at the top speed of the vehicle.

  • For conventional vehicles up to 190 km/h maximum speed, see the CR NOI TSI. Limits are set for a measurement point 7.5 m from the centre of track and 1.2 m above rail. While limits for different types of freight wagons range between 82-87 dB (point 4.2.1.1.), for locos it's 85 dB and for multiple units 81-82 dB (point 4.2.2.4.).
  • For high-speed trains, see the HS RST TSI. The reference point is much further from the track (25 m) and higher (3.5 m), and the limit value depends on speed (meaning, trains can be louder when going faster, thus say a 300 km/h train won't necessarily be quieter at 200 km/h than a train built for that lower speed). The limit for 200 km/h is 88 dB.

Actual measurements I'm aware of put 200 km/h passenger trains and 100 km/h freight trains into pretty much the same noise range when measured at the same distance (though pass-by time and the noise spectrum is different).

Comparing freight trains and high-speed trains for the purpose of noise protection is problematic because we are speaking about different noise types, with different noise reduction potentials. For rail vehicles, the dominant noise type is speed-dependent:

  • at low speeds, it's motor noise and running gear-related noise (including vibrations of structural parts caused by the jolts and bumps);
  • somewhere below 50 km/h, rolling noise (including bearing noise) takes over, this is the dominant factor for full-speed freight trains;
  • somewhere around 200 km/h, aerodynamic noise becomes dominant;
  • somewhere above 300 km/h, within aerodynamic noise, the pantograph will be the single biggest factor (so yes, you were right upthread, at 200 km/h theability to contain rolling noise with the increasing distance of the noise wall from the track probably counts more than the pantograph).

Now, as the technology and science stands, there is a significant medium-term potential for the reduction of freight wagon running gear and rolling noise than for the reduction of multiple unit aerodynamic noise. In contrast to passenger vehicles, freight wagon running gear is built robust and simple. The key components to change for noise reduction are the metallic tread brakes (noisy when braking but also making the wheel surfaces rough and thus increasing rolling noise) and the simple suspension (resulting in a rough ride over track unevenness).

There is now serious effort to find replacements for standard freight wagon running gear (composite tread brakes, new bogies with disc brakes and rubber springs). A wagon replacement/retrofit may happen over the same timescale as the fitting of all non-upgraded conventional lines with noise walls and screens, and may make more sense.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 01:38:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Two more quibbles:

For the existing routes the legally conceded noise protection is much weaker, the rumbling freight trains can make noise as much as they want

It's true that there is no legal requirement for noise protection of already noise-polluted places (largely along Helen's logic). However, there is a government programme to fund noise protection measures in such places anyway, basically using the same limits as qualification criteria. The issue here is that the noise protection of all exposed areas along non-upgraded lines would either take a long long time or a lot of money.

they want to force the DB to develop modern techniques against the noise

More like forcing them to apply what they are developing or testing. The problem with DB's planning depaetment is that (1) by default, they don't want to change their plans, (2) if they do get to changing plans, they cannot do it without a significant planning cost increase...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Sep 24th, 2012 at 02:03:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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