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Railway Noise and Vibration Research at the ISVR

The ISVR is a leading centre for research into railway noise and vibration. Its staff in this area include people with many years of experience in noise and vibration research in the railway industry.

Main areas of research

There are many aspects of railway noise and vibration. Current and recent areas of research in railway noise and vibration at ISVR include the following aspects:

  1. Reduction of rolling noise from freight trains by:
    - modification of the wheel design
    - modification of the track
    - use of low barriers close to the track and vehicle-
      mounted shields.

    This is the subject of two recent collaborative projects, Silent Freight and Silent Track, funded by the European Union.  The aim was to demonstrate reductions of about 10dB(A) in the noise from a freight train on ballasted track.  ISVR had specific responsibility for much of the modelling and design analysis within both projects, developing and using the TWINS models.  Work is also carried-out directly for industry.
  2. Theoretical modelling of ground vibration and ground-bourne noise from trains.

  3. Noise from steel and concrete railway bridges.  This has been the subject of a number of industrially funded research projects.
  4. Noise inside railway vehicles.
  5. Impact noise from rail joints and wheel flats.  This is the subject of an EPSRC grant.


ISVR has available a range of laboratories including a large reverberation room and anechoic chamber as well as specialist facilities including engine test cells, a listening room, human vibration laboratories. A wide range of noise and vibration instrumentation is available.

Specific tools for railway noise research include TWINS (Track Wheel Interaction Software), developed by David Thompson to predict the rolling noise due to particular wheel and track designs and which is being used to develop quieter designs of both wheel and track. Theoretical models for ground vibration propagation and bridge noise are also available and being developed further.

Many standard prediction and measurement tools are also available at ISVR including finite element analysis for structural vibration, finite element and boundary element methods for acoustic radiation, statistical energy analysis including both predictive and experimentally based variants, experimental modal analysis.

Test track: A 36 m test section of mainline track was installed in 1997 which allows static experiments on track vibration and noise. This is partly sponsored by Corus Rail and a number of component suppliers.

A scale model wheel/rail rig has been acquired from London Underground and can be used for laboratory validation of rolling noise modelling, the testing of particular wheel or track designs, as well as work on curve squeal, impact noise and development of wheel/rail surface roughness.


Access to these research areas is also possible on a consultancy or contract-research basis. To discuss how ISVR can help you to design low noise solutions for railways, please contact:

Professor David Thompson
Dynamics Group
Institute of Sound and Vibration Research
University of Southampton
Southampton  S017 1BJ

Telephone: +44 (0)23 8059 2510
Facsimile: +44 (0)23 8059 3190

ISVR Consulting also provide a complementary range of services in environmental noise and vibration from railways.

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