How Battery Hybrid Locomotives Help To Reduce Noise Pollution

How Battery Hybrid Locomotives Help To Reduce Noise Pollution
March 15, 2024 Jessica Salt
A battery operated train running efficiently through residential areas while producing minimum noise pollution.

Although a significant percentage of the world’s locomotives are currently powered by diesel, this looks set to change over the coming decades. This is in large part thanks to increasing legislation, such as the Paris Climate Agreement, that aims to limit global warming by reducing emissions.

What this means for the locomotive and transport industries is an increasing switch towards battery electric and hybrid power vehicles.

By limiting the carbon usage of battery hybrid locomotives can help to significantly reduce overall emissions and improve both local and general air quality. However, there is another important environmental and social benefit that is not discussed as frequently: noise pollution. Diesel locomotives produce a significant amount of noise, whether that is during idling, acceleration, or deceleration. This can disrupt sleep and affect the quality of life for anyone who lives or works near a railway line.

This noise pollution is compounded by the fact that traditional diesel locomotives often idle for extended periods, particularly when stationary, to maintain power for onboard systems and readiness for movement. A diesel electric locomotive, however, can help to reduce noise pollution by as much as 70%, which means they have much less impact on public spaces and workplaces. Here’s a few of the ways they can achieve this reduced impact.

Engine Control

The noise of a passing diesel train can reach up to 100 decibels at a distance of 100 feet, which can be very disruptive, especially in residential areas or at unsociable hours. Decibel levels for battery or hybrid trains are lower, at around 60 decibels, reducing the impact on the general environment.

In addition, a hybrid battery locomotive can turn off the engine in built up areas or when idling, dropping the noise level by more than 20 decibels. That gives operatives the ability to control noise in areas where it might cause the most disruption, reducing noise pollution in residential areas and improving relationships with the public.

Reduced Need For Infrastructure

One common response of the rail industry to complaints about noise from diesel locomotives has been to invest heavily in noise reduction infrastructure, such as noise barriers, berms or even tunnels. In Germany, Deutsche Bahn has committed to reducing noise for over 800,000 residents by fitting noise control measures along 6,500km of track. However, these measures, combined with others such as reduced engine sizes to limit noise production, can have major profit implications and can affect capacity.

Without the need for large cooling fans and engine exhausts, battery locomotives are much quieter which means there is less need for noise mitigation or reduced engine capacity. It’s also necessary to point out that switching to battery locomotives represents a significant investment in infrastructure, although it’s also an investment that comes with other major advantages, such as reduced emissions and reduced maintenance requirements.

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Whilst the move away from diesel powered locomotives to hybrid battery power is being driven by a need to meet regulatory compliance and reduce emissions, the benefits of noise reduction should not be underestimated.

Thinking of switching to battery locomotives? Get in touch with one of the team at Clayton Equipment to find out more.