ACOUTRAIN – Virtual certification of acoustic performance for freight and passenger trains
ACOUTRAIN will simplify and improve the acoustic certification process of new rolling stock, in particular relating to the Technical Specification for Interoperability Noise. Today the need of conformity assessment for a new vehicle according to the TSI Noise represents a significant element of both cost and time to market due to the need to carry out expensive and time consuming tests. The goal of the proposed project is to speed up the authorization process by introducing some elements of virtual testing while retaining the same degree of reliability and accuracy. A successful simplification of the TSI conformity assessment process would result in a strengthening of the competitiveness of the European railway sector. The risk of not developing such a simplification would be that the expense of excessive certification of new products could hamper the introduction of new innovations.
The major outcome of the ACOUTRAIN project will be a new certification process including some elements of virtual testing.
Railway noise is an environmental issue that significantly affects the population along railway lines; this is a well-recognised problem at European level. In recent years EU regulations including so-called TSIs (Technical Specifications for Interoperability) have come into force to reduce the noise impact; the TSI Noise aims at limiting the noise emission from new railway vehicles put on the market. A strong growth in traffic volume is foreseen in Europe in the coming years: up to 40% for passengers and 70% for freight by 2020. Out of this, the rail sector is forecast to capture 14% of the freight and 11% of the passenger growth. As a result, the impact of railway noise on the population is expected to increase whilst the present EU regulation will evolve in order to achieve the necessary noise reductions to compensate for the growth in traffic volume.
Today the growth of traffic on many railway lines in Europe is already limited by the noise exposure of nearby residents. This implies that, if the foreseen traffic growth is to be contained within the environmental noise reception limits, each train must emit less noise. The TSI Noise introduces limit values for the noise emitted by individual vehicles and is therefore an important instrument for reducing environmental noise levels in Europe. By gradually introducing lower limit levels in the TSI Noise, the supply industry is put under pressure to develop quieter products.
Besides the aspect of noise reduction, in common with the whole TSI portfolio, the TSI Noise is intended to promote interoperability. This means that once a vehicle is authorised in one country this is sufficient to allow operation over the whole Trans-European Network.
This sounds appealing but, in reality, the TSI Noise conformity assessment process has introduced a layer of complexity and rigidity that limits its benefits.
Experience proved that the testing process required for new railway vehicles in order to be certified for noise according to the TSI requirements is too time consuming and costly, leading to a reduced and delayed effectiveness of the legislation.
ACOUTRAIN aims to address this by introducing the possibility of simulation to replace part of the noise testing procedures in order to support the railway operators and manufacturers to comply with the noise limits in a timely manner, reducing cost and speeding up time-to-market for new quieter vehicles.