Two new pillars of Deutsche Bahn on the way to silent rail freight

2021/05/05 at 7:54 AM

Following the installation of whisper brakes on its entire wagon fleet, Deutsche Bahn (DB) intends to implement two new pillars. As a result of the noise protection policy, the German national operator will provide much more silent rail freight transport.

Container train in Germany, source: Deutsche Bahn AG / Wolfgang Klee

In 2020 DB Cargo, a freight division of Deutsche Bahn, replaced cast-iron brake blocks on all of 63,000 its wagons with composite brake pads, which are known as whisper brakes. This move allowed the company to halve the noise produced by freight trains. For the coming decade, DB Cargo has planned to continue this policy by implementing two new pillars. “The railway will be even quieter and greener in the future. After the successful retrofitting of our freight wagons, it is now the turn of our locomotives,” said Sigrid Nikutta, CEO of DB Cargo.

Silent locos

As for the locomotive, the German rail freight operator has set an interim goal. By 2025, all of DB Cargo’s 850 electric mainline locomotives will run with whisper brakes. Currently, 90 per cent of these locomotives are already retrofitted with the mentioned type of brakes. The company is also planning to retire its high-emission diesel locomotives of Class 232/233 by 2030. Moreover, DB Cargo will buy new locos only with brake pads. “By purchasing only new locomotives with disc brakes, our freight trains will be much quieter across the country for the foreseeable future,” added DB Cargo’s chairwoman.

Silent tracks

The other pillar to be carried out in the coming years is noise protection of tracks. To this, DB Netze, DB’s infrastructure division, will invest millions of euros. For instance, more than 146 million euros were allocated for this purpose. In late 2019 there were 1,844 kilometres of noise-rehabilitated tracks in Germany. At the end of 2020, DB Netze hit the 2,000-kilometre milestone in implementing the noise protection policy.

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