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University has vital role in cutting railway noise
4:05pm Wednesday 6th June 2012 in Travel
A “SILENT” railway developed by scientists at the University of Southampton has been installed in the UK for the first time.
The innovative track which reduces the noise of trains passing over it has been fitted at one of London’s busiest stations, Blackfriars.
Tata Steel engineers teamed up with acoustic experts at the world renowned Institute of Sound and Vibration Research at the University of Southampton to develop SilentTrack.
In-depth research was undertaken into the sources of railway noise and the team went on to develop a system to reduce noise at its source – the contact between train wheels and rails.
Tata claims that its rubber-encased steel noise dampening blocks, which are fitted to the side of tracks, reduce noise in and around the station by up to 50 per cent. The track characteristics are analysed for the dampers to be configured to absorb vibration at the frequencies that are producing the greatest sound power.
David Benton, one of the Tata Steel engineers who developed SilentTrack, said: “Acoustic experts at the University of Southampton helped us to carry out extensive research into how rail noise is generated and how to reduce it. Working together, we developed a number of prototypes and tested them on the university’s scaled-down section of railway track in Southampton, before we developed the final design.
“The university played a vital role in developing SilentTrack and we are continuing to work with them to further improve the technology.”
David Thompson, Professor of Railway Noise and Vibration at Southampton University, who helped develop the SilentTrack rail damper in the late 1990s, said: “The beauty of the SilentTrack rail damper is that it gives significant reductions in noise without the intrusion of a tall noise barrier.
“The Dutch and German railways in particular have installed quite a lot of them. It’s really pleasing that the installation at Blackfriars means they are now used in the UK.”
SilentTrack is already in operation in 13 countries around the world, including Australia, Norway and Germany. Nearly a mile of Silent Track has now been installed for the first time in the UK at Blackfriars.