A ban on operating noisy freight wagons, which has been imposed by the Act Prohibiting the Operation of Noisy Freight Wagons (Railway Noise Mitigation Act), will take effect from the start of the 2020/21 working timetable period.
DB Netz AG is currently preparing to implement the provisions of the Railway Noise Mitigation Act. These provisions must be applied whenever access parties request infrastructure capacity for the 2020/21 working timetable. We therefore plan to provide access parties and wagon keep-ers with timely ongoing information about the relevant rules that will apply under this Act.
From 13 December 2020, the Railway Noise Mitigation Act will prohibit the operation of freight or passenger trains containing one or more noisy freight wagons on the German (public standard gauge) rail network. Noisy freight wagons are those that exceed the noise emission limits under the TSI relating to rolling stock noise. This means that the Act will ban the operation of freight wagons with cast iron brake blocks. Wagons that have been retrofitted with composite brake blocks in place of cast iron brake blocks will be treated for the purposes of the Railway Noise Mitigation Act as equivalent to low-noise wagons compliant with the TSI relating to rolling stock noise. Such retrofitted wagons will therefore not restrict the operation of trains containing them.
Noisy freight wagons will only be allowed to operate without restrictions if an official exemption has been agreed. The German Federal Railway Authority may issue an exemption if requested by the operator or wagon keeper. Exemptions can only be issued if the wagon is providing pre- or onward carriage on a line with steep gradients, if it operates exclusively for historical or touristic interest or if there is no approved technology to turn the wagon into quiet freight wagon.
If no exemption has been issued, paths on the German rail network for trains containing one or more noisy wagons may only be requested for ad hoc services. In this case, the train's speed must be reduced so that its noise emissions do not exceed that of a comparable train containing only low-noise wagons. In practice, this usually entails reducing the train's speed to around 20-30 km/h.
Infringements of the Railway Noise Mitigation Act may result in severe penalties. In the case of repeated violations, other official sanctions may apply. These may include speed limits or bans on the offending rail company.