Railway Induced Vibration Abatement Solutions

Contract: SCP0-GA-2010-265754
Website: www.rivas-project.eu
Acronym: RIVAS
Full title: Railway Induced Vibration Abatement Solutions
Starting date: February 1, 2011
Project Co-ordinator: UIC, Paris (FR)
Duration (in months): 36
Budget: € 8,242,131.20
EC contribution: € 5,199,995.00


The transport system is the backbone of Europe’s economic and social prosperity. Therefore, in its White Paper on the future transport policy, the European Union has expressed its vision for its future transport needs across the continent that is a transport system that is high capacity, efficient, cost-effective and yet meets its environmental targets. Rail is promoted as the most sustainable surface transport mode for regional and international transport both for freight and passenger movements. A specific European Union strategy is to promote rail freight transport as the most sustainable way to increase inter-member state economic activity. The forecasts for railway transport in Europe underline this approach. The Strategic Rail Research Agenda 2020 [1] of the European Rail Research Advisory Council (ERRAC) expects, in its Railway Business Scenarios, rail to double its share of both the freight and the passenger markets compared with 2000.

However, noise and vibration are often perceived as weaknesses in rail’s environmental credentials. While noise is an issue for all modes of transport, vibration is specific to rail and therefore stands out all the more as a criticism of rail transport.

This is a significant hindrance to the upgrading of lines for them to become part of a European Freight Corridor. In the case of new lines, vibration mitigation already features heavily in the cost of making them acceptable to the public. Opposition to new lines is as much about the effects of vibration as any other topic, including noise.

Several surveys have been conducted in Europe to determine the nature and extent of the impact of railway vibration on residents.


RIVAS’ mission is to reduce the environmental impact of ground-borne vibration while safeguarding the commercial competitiveness of the railway sector. For many problem areas, vibration should be reducible to near or even below the threshold of human perception. The project’s goal is therefore to provide the tools to solve vibration problems for surface lines by 2013.

It therefore aims to contribute to relevant and world leading technologies for efficient control of people’s exposure to vibration and vibration-induced noise caused by rail traffic. These technologies will be applied to vibration ’control at source’(improved maintenance of track and wheel as well as rolling stock and track) and this scope covers propagation measures close to the track as being still within the railway infrastructure. RIVAS will also include effects at the receiver location (i.e. annoyance and exposure of residents to vibrations).

The exploitation of RIVAS results will:

  • focus primarily on freight lines;
  • be applicable to other rail sector operations (local (suburban), regional and high-speed networks);
  • increase attractiveness of rail traffic;
  • increase acceptability of railways to Europe’s residents;
  • strengthen competitiveness of railway transport as a mode;
  • strengthen Europe’s railway industry also in the market place outside Europe.

Main technical objectives

Efficient vibration mitigation requires:

  • a toolbox of efficient vibration reduction technologies (rolling stock /track/transmission) for a wide variety of applications;
  • clear procedures for the assessment of the effect of vibration reduction technologies in terms of both physical parameters and human perception This enables and simplifies the optimum choice of mitigation measures and therefore considerably decreases costs for railway infrastructure and increases the benefits for residents.

RIVAS reflects this by combining technical innovation with the development of unified measurement and assessment procedures. Its main objectives are therefore:

  • the development of technologies to reduce vibration ‘at source’. The focus will be on measures that can be implemented on existing lines (retrofit). They will be applicable to rail vehicle design, rolling stock maintenance, track design, track maintenance, sub-grade engineering, and the transmission path within the railway infrastructure.
  • the development of cost effective test procedures including a measurement protocol to monitor and control the performance of vibration reduction measures, hence making results comparable throughout Europe.
  • a ‘technology assessment’ in terms of cost-effectiveness, safety issues, operation, potential impact on rolling noise emission, social aspects.

Description of Work

These requirements are reflected in the overall project structure with a total of eight work packages. The RTD activities are concentrated in WP1 – WP5. Dissemination, exploitation and training activities are content of WP6. WP0 and WP7 refer to coordination and management activities.

The main objective of WP1 is the establishment of test procedures to efficiently monitor and control the performance of vibration mitigation measures under realistic conditions and their effect on residents.

WP2 will define, optimize and demonstrate selected measures related to track and rolling stock maintenance to reduce excitation of ground vibration at source.

This includes:

  • the identification of track and wheel irregularities and their influence on vibration generation,
  • the development of optimized maintenance measures for track and wheels to effectively minimize the vibration emissions, and
  • a full-scale demonstration for some important measures for wheels and tracks.

WP3 tackles ground vibrations at the source by developing and optimizing mitigation measures on the track itself. As the track characteristics play a major role in the generation of ground vibrations, efficient mitigation measures can be designed to modify the track response with a target of low vibration emission in the soil.

WP4 is to develop and optimize railway infrastructure based vibration reduction technologies in the transmission path, either under or right next to the track. In the frequency of railway vibrations, the top layer of the soil plays an important role, which is often neglected. It leads to a “cut-on” frequency above which a steep rise in the vibration transmission spectrum occurs. The idea is to take into account the layered structure of the soil or alter its effect to form barriers to propagation.

WP5 starts with identifying and quantifying the vehicle related parameters that influence the vibration generation, than optimizes related measures to reduce vibrations, taking into account functional constraints and cost efficiency aspects. The most promising mitigation measures will be field-tested.


RIVAS will focus on low frequency vibration from open lines, which is a concern mainly for freight traffic. However, it can be anticipated that RIVAS results will also be applicable to suburban, regional and high-speed operations.

Finally, the RIVAS results will contribute to European standards in particular to a harmonization of metrics.

The key deliverables of the RIVAS project are:

  • mitigation measures for ballasted and slab track;
  • guidelines for the design of transmission mitigation measures under/next to the track;
  • guidelines for the design of low vibration vehicles;
  • assessment of the benefits of mitigation measures in terms of human response and agreed protocol for the evaluation of annoyance and exposure to vibration;
  • agreed measurement protocols to assess and monitor the performance of ant vibration measures;
  • agreed protocol to characterise vibration response properties of soils;
  • guidelines for maintenance of track and vehicles for low vibration.