Rail must become quieter and thus kinder to the environment and local residents – that was the BMVI’s plan and the basis for the “Leise Schiene 2020” program. The target: reducing rail traffic noise by 10 dB (A), which is perceived by the human ear as halving the noise. To achieve this goal, all freight cars in Germany had to be converted to whisper brakes, new cars had to be purchased with whisper brakes only.
For the wagon owners, this conversion to low-noise brake pads represented a major challenge, both in terms of the additional burden on day-to-day operations as well as financially. Like other owners, ERR European Rail Rent GmbH had to convert hundreds of wagons by the end of 2020. In some cases, this was possible as part of regular revisions, but in many cases the use of Mobile Services or additional repair shop visits were required. A mammoth project that was nevertheless successfully completed by the end of 2020.
But – the financial outlay does not end there: The converted cars have significantly higher operating costs. For example, brakes and wheel sets have to be inspected at shorter intervals. Wheelsets need to be reprofiled more frequently and wear out more quickly, and the LL soles are also significantly more expensive to replace than cast iron brake pads.
To support wagon owners, at least in part, the European Commission is funding the conversion through the European Union’s “Connecting Europe” Facility (CEF). ERR was also able to take advantage of funds from the facility.