|Tata Steel has developed an innovative noise reduction rail system called SilentTrack,
which significantly reduces noise generated by railway traffic, benefiting people
living near railway lines. The system also does away with the need to erect large,
visually unattractive barriers. The patented Tata Steel SilentTrack system tackles
noise at the source and can be fitted to established infrastructure with minimal
change to railway practice.
The innovative railway track system was recently installed for the first time
at London’s Blackfriars station, one of the busiest in the UK. It is part
of the Thameslink programme. Mike Poulter, marketing manager, rail sector, Tata Steel, talks about the product.
Can you tell us about the SilentTrack system developed by Tata Steel?
SilentTrack is a noise damper that fits to the side of a rail and absorbs
rail wheel interface noise. It meets the requirements of the European Commission
noise legislation to manage railway noise in urban environments, where requirements are most stringent on new tracks.
When was this system developed and when was it patented by the company?
The SilentTrack system was developed during the late 1990s and the
first patent was filed in 1998. A second patent was filed in 2007, which protects
a clip system which is easier to use and more cost-effective than the original
glued damper. All sales now use the clip-on approach.
What are the key advantages of this system and where is it likely to
SilentTrack typically reduces the total noise generated when a train
passes by three to six decibels (dB), which is 50 to 75 percent of the total
noise. This is a more cost-effective solution than noise barriers, which were
previously the main method of addressing noise. It also has the advantage that
train passengers and the local community benefit from retaining the views that
would otherwise be lost if high noise barriers were erected.
SilentTrack was recently installed at Blackfriars station in London.
How effective has it been?
Noise measurements were taken on the track before installing SilentTrack
and they will be repeated by Thameslink shortly to establish the improvement.
This approach has been adopted at early sites with all new customers and the
improvement is consistently in the range of three to six dBs.
Which are the other places where SilentTrack is in use?
Over 100km of SilentTrack has been installed in Germany and Holland, 16km in
Australia and trials have been installed in a number of European countries including
France, Sweden, Denmark. A recent installation in Singapore has led to approval
of the product for more widespread use on the network.
Are you planning to introduce such a system in India?
We would be very pleased to introduce the system in India or anywhere
else in the world where there's a market need. However, we are actively targeting
the markets where legislation is driving demand for noise control. We have found
it to be a slow and costly process to develop a new market unless the need for
noise control has already been identified and budgets put in place to address
the need. Currently there is massive investment in the Indian rail market but
our primary focus is to supply rail rather than SilentTrack.
Could you give us some details about other innovations that are being
developed by Tata Steel Europe?
My focus is very much on rail. We have a very active product development
programme. Two of our new products won Innovista awards in Mumbai in April 2012.
HPrail was a winner in the promising innovations (new product) category. This
is a wear and contact fatigue resistant rail which addresses the two most common
forms of rail degradation.
This would be an excellent solution for the new freight corridors in India,
but approval of new products is a slow and difficult process in India. So it
will depend on the reaction that we get when we discuss it with Research Designs
and Standards Organisation and the Indian Railways.
A new weld repairable, wear resistant grooved rail won the leading edge (proven
technology) award at Innovista. This increases rail life in street running tramways
where tight corners cause very high wear. The steel has been developed to have
a long life and to be compatible with our patented weld repair process so that
it can be rebuilt when wear limits are reached to provide multiple rail lives.
This system is only applicable to rail that is embedded in roads, where the
cost of rail replacement is enormous, typically £3000/m in the UK cities.