Deployment of quieter freight trains starts in Germany

Low-cost whisper brakes authorized for use throughout Europe • retrofitting of Deutsche Bahn’s existing rolling stock fleet now underway • Federal government provides funding – transport companies make their contribution

Berlin, 24-6-2013 — / — Deployment of quieter freight trains starts in Germany: With the symbolic retrofit of the first of DB Schenker Rail’s freight cars with the newly approved LL brake block, the Federal Ministry of Transport, Building and Urban Development (BMVBS), Deutsche Bahn and the International Union of Railways (UIC) gave the starting signal for the retrofit of DB freight cars today in Berlin. The LL brake block (short for “low noise, low friction”) ensures smooth wheel treads leading to a 10 decibel reduction in the noise caused by passing trains, which is perceived as a halving of the noise.

“We -Deutsche Bahn and the Ministry of Transport – have set ourselves the goal of halving rail noise from 2000 to 2020. With the approval of the LL brake pad, the signal to successively retrofit DB freight cars with noise reducing brakes has now been given. We hope that other German and European wagon keepers and rail companies will follow suit to achieve an effective reduction of rail noise,” said Dr. Rüdiger Grube, CEO and Chairman of the Management Board of Deutsche Bahn AG, on Monday in Berlin.

Federal Transport Minister Dr. Peter Ramsauer: “With this new brake technology, freight trains run significantly quieter. This technology has now finally been authorized for use throughout Europe. There is no excuse now for wagon keepers to delay equipping their fleets with these whisper brakes. We are providing public funding for the retrofitting of freight cars until 2020. As of 2021, loud trains will no longer be certified for operation on the German network. We will finally have a more acceptable situation for people living alongside busy railway lines.”

“Based on the results of tests undertaken with the “EuropeTrain” test train, which for some two years traveled over 200,000 kilometers right across Europe with the participation of various European rail companies and wagon keepers, the UIC committees have now granted the required authorizations. Effective immediately, companies can replace the cast-iron brake blocks with LL brake blocks in the course of routine maintenance work, with no special permission required,” explained UIC Director General Jean-Pierre Loubinoux. Additional authorization by national authorities such as the Federal Railway Authority (EBA) is no longer necessary.

DB Schenker Rail, DB’s rail freight operator, will retrofit 5,000 freight cars with LL brake blocks by the end of 2014 and, including the cars retrofitted as part of the “Quiet Rhine” project and the new quiet cars that are already in operation, will then have a fleet of over 14,000 quiet freight cars available. To ensure that rail noise is reduced quickly, the focus in 2014 and 2015 will be on car types suited to block train operations.

The costs of the actual retrofitting will be borne jointly by the Federal government using public funding and wagon keepers willing to retrofit. To reduce the burden on the competitiveness of rail transportation, the wagon keepers will receive funding from the Federal government. Any follow-on costs arising after retrofitting has been completed, such as those caused by more frequent inspections and increased wear on wheels, are to be borne in full by the wagon keepers themselves. Public funding in this area could significantly speed up the retrofitting of cars and maintain the competitiveness of rail freight transportation.

In addition to public funding, DB Netz AG introduced a noise-differentiated track access charge system effective as of June 1 of this year, which includes a surcharge for loud trains and a bonus for quiet trains. This will create an additional financial incentive for deploying quiet freight cars. As a result of the “noise surcharge”, the sector will become involved in covering the retrofit costs. As early as 2001, DB Schenker Rail began to use the K brake block, which is also a composite brake block, for all newly purchased freight cars. Retrofitting cars in the existing fleet with the K brake block, however, requires extensive modifications to the vehicle’s brake system, followed by recertification of the brake system for each type of car. Replacing the cast-iron brake blocks of freight cars of the existing fleet with the newly approved LL brake blocks, in contrast, is possible with no costly modifications required; only the brake blocks themselves are replaced. The costs for retrofitting with LL brake blocks will amount to around EUR 1,700 per car, which is approximately one third of the sum required to retrofit cars of the existing fleet with K brake blocks.

To ensure that the effectiveness of composite brake blocks can be exploited fully on tracks throughout Europe, a determined effort is required by everyone concerned to systematically retrofit freight cars of the existing fleets. In the opinion of the experts, audible success will only be achieved when at least 80 percent of all freight cars in a passing train are equipped with composite brake blocks. For rail freight transportation in Germany, this means that around 180,000 cars will have to be retrofitted, approximately 60,000 of which are operated by DB Schenker Rail. An additional 60,000 freight cars running on the German network are operated by private German wagon keepers, plus approximately 60,000 cars by foreign rail companies and foreign private wagon keepers, with considerable transport volumes.

Information for photo editors:
Photos from the press event will be available for download free of charge today as of 5 pm at under “Group affairs”.

Issued by: DB Mobility Logistics AG
Potsdamer Platz 2, 10785 Berlin, Germany
Responsible for content: Oliver Schumacher,
Head of Corporate Communications

Relevant contact

DB Schenker
Bernd Weiler
Head of Communications Transportation and Logistics / International
Bellevuestrasse 3
10785 Berlin
Phone: +49 30 297-54020
Fax: +49 30 297-54029

Deutsche Bahn AG
Hans-Georg Zimmermann
Spokesperson Track Infrastructure
Theodor-Heuss-Allee 7
60486 Frankfurt am Main
Phone: +49 69 265-32001
Fax: +49 69 265-32007


Comments are closed.