Modernising the rolling stock
Modernising the braking systems on rolling stock is the most efficient way to reduce railway noise. The new brakes no longer roughen up the wheel treads when braking, and produce less noise when travelling. Under the first noise abatement programme in 2000, the Confederation therefore subsidised remediation of the rolling stock –through both direct contributions and the incentive of a noise bonus in the train path price. All Swiss keepers’ wagons have now been converted. The last goods wagons left the workshops in summer 2016. A total of 11,000 goods and passenger wagons were modernised.
For international traffic, new vehicles have had to meet strict noise protection requirements since 2006. In the liberalised freight traffic market however, wagons may be used over many decades and trains are often composed of vehicles with very different origins. This greatly reduces the effectiveness of a purely national noise abatement programme. In the current ongoing noise abatement programme, Switzerland has therefore decreed emission thresholds for all goods wagons running on the Swiss network. The consequence of these thresholds is that, from early 2020, older wagons with loud grey cast iron brakes may no longer be deployed on the Swiss network.
There continues to be a financial incentive for the wagon keepers to convert to more modern, quieter wagons, in the form of the noise bonus in the train path price. Further, Parliament has provided about CHF 30 million for investment credits to support particularly low-noise goods wagons. A particularly low-noise goods wagon is characterised by the optimisation of essential factors for noise emission. The bogies are foremost in this. The emission thresholds for new wagons could thus be significantly undercut.