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Rail traffic noise register
Noise nuisance related to rail traffic was modelled in 2006: the map of the acoustic situation of the regional territory shows the contours of the annual noise levels that exceed 45 dB(A). Only a small part of the Brussels territory experiences a noise impact from rail traffic. It concerns the immediate vicinity of the tracks and places where there are few obstacles acting as an acoustic barrier.
Rail, a transport mode of increasing importance
In the railway network of SNCB and, in particular, the train stations Etterbeek, Brussels-Schuman, Brussels-Nord and Brussels-Midi, a strong increase in use was observed between 1990 and 2004 (+7%).
Assessment of noise from rail traffic
To assess the noise nuisance in the living environment of the inhabitants of Brussels, an 'acoustic' site description of the territory was made for the year 2006. It has not been updated since the last report on the State of the Environment, but will be updated in 2017 based on the 2016 situation. The purpose of this site description is to quantify the 'structural' noise from rail traffic and to create a model of the annoyance experienced by the population. The resulting maps of this modelling are called the 'rail traffic noise register'.
This register determines the Lden (the day-evening-night level), which represents the weighted equivalent noise level over 24 hours that was observed, on average, for an entire year (in this case 2006). For the weighting a penalty factor of 5 dB(A) is applied during the evening (7 p.m. to 11 p.m.) and of 10 dB(A) during the night (11 p.m. to 7 a.m.), as noise at those times is experienced as a greater annoyance. However, Lden is not directly representative of the 'noise peaks' that occur when a train goes by; for this, other, so-called 'event indicators' are used.
The register also determines the Ln (the night level), which corresponds to the equivalent noise level between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Magnitude of noise from rail traffic
Rail traffic noise register in the Brussels-Capital Region – Lden Indicator
Sources : Brussels Environment, 2010, “Geluidshinder door het verkeer – Strategische kaart voor het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest”, based on the traffic data for 2006, method RMR-SRMII-1996 and the modelling software CadnaA
The impact of rail traffic noise affects only a small part of the Brussels territory. It occurs in the immediate surroundings of the tracks or in a larger adjoining area when the noise encounters few obstacles (for instance along the canal, around the marshalling yard, in the Sonian Forest and in Pede in Anderlecht). Although the effects are very localised, their impact is not inappreciable: noise levels along the tracks often rise above 70 dB(A) and amount to levels between 55 and 65 dB(A) in adjacent areas.
The greatest impact (and the widest corridor) is located along a northeast-southwest axis that coincides with the north-south junction. In Anderlecht, where the tracks from Ghent to Brussels enter the Brussels territory, the impact is strong as well.
The noise level at night is around 5 to 10 dB(A) below the day-time level. At night the noise nuisance is caused by freight trains.
The noise related to rail traffic only occupies the third place in the ranking of urban noise nuisance due to transport (expressed in number of inhabitants exposed). First on this list is the noise caused by road traffic, followed by air traffic. This does not mean that isolated events cannot disturb a lot certain persons.
We also wish to emphasise that these conclusions are based on a model on the scale of the Region and are representative of the situation over a whole year.
Other publications from Brussels Environment
Study(ies) and report(s)
Acouphen Environnement, 2009. « Impact acoustique des transports terrestres pour la Région de Bruxelles-Capitale ». Study performed on behalf of Brussels Environment, 303 pp., restricted (.pdf, in French only)
Acouphen Environnement, 2009. « Cartographie stratégique du bruit des transports terrestres en Région de Bruxelles-Capitale – année 2006 – Résumé non technique », 2009. Study performed on behalf of Brussels Environment, 34 pp. (.pdf, in French and Dutch only)