The Educational Railroading Conference Leader Since 1994


2021 Rail Transit Session


Rail Damper Trials – Noise Reduction Outcomes from Ottawa and Vancouver

Briony Croft

Briony Croft
Acoustic Consultant

The potential to use rail dampers for transit noise control at source has been identified for two Canadian transit systems, the Vancouver SkyTrain and the Ottawa Light Rail. This presentation describes the background to the noise issue in each location, and the theoretical analysis that led to a recommendation of rail dampers in each case. Measured noise reductions from each system are presented and the results discussed with reference to the original predictions of noise benefit.

In Vancouver, initial trials were undertaken with one rail damper unit installed per track meter, reflecting the fastener spacing used on tangent track for this system. Subsequent trials increased the damper density to two units per track meter and investigated the direct noise reduction benefit in a corrugated track section. Further work has included trials of two damper designs customized to the SkyTrain system, targeting specific corrugation noise frequencies. The presence of corrugation maeans the dominant noise issue to be mitigated is lower frequency than typical rail rolling noise in the absence of corrugation.

In Ottawa, with a more typical rail fastener spacing and no observed tendency to corrugation, customization of the rail dampers was not required. Rail dampers were installed for rolling noise control in a section of slab track with resilient direct fix rail fasteners.