WIT Press

Noise reduction for ballasted track: A comparative socio-economic assessment


Free (open access)


Volume 3 (2019), Issue 1



Page Range

15 - 29

Paper DOI



WIT Press


John Armstrong, Alejandro Ortega, Simon Blainey, John Preston, David Thompson, Giacomo Squicciarini & Evangelos Ntotsios


Transport infrastructure produces many externalities. Increased accessibility and the resultant economic development are among the most notable positive ones. Accidents, air and noise pollution and other environmental issues, such as impacts on biodiversity, landscape and townscape, are the most important negative ones. In the case of railway infrastructure, noise impacts have a key effect on net social benefit. Noise reduction is crucial to achieve greater social benefits. Against this background, the University of Southampton has been undertaking the Track to the Future (T2F) project, which is assessing, among other issues, how to produce a quiet ballasted track system that at the same time is cheaper to maintain and renew.

This paper considers combinations of engineering interventions that could reduce rail-related noise, including under sleeper pads, rail dampers and noise barriers which all reduce noise emissions. It extends previous analysis of under sleeper pads to compare their costs and benefits with those of rail dampers and noise barriers in the context of a UK-based installation case study.


comfort, cost–benefit analysis, noise, noise barriers, rail dampers, railway, under sleeper pads, upgrades