Comparative studies on railway and road traffic noise annoyances and the importance of number of trains
Paper in proceedings, 2011
Railway noise is perceived as less annoying than road traffic noise, both in terms of general annoyance and sleep disturbances according to dose-response relationships from meta-analyses. However, findings in recent years from Japanese studies show, unlike most European studies, that railway noise is perceived as more annoying than road traffic noise at sound levels >LAeq,24h 55 dB. This applies particularly to the Japanese Shinkansen express trains as well as conventional trains. Several of the Japanese studies have been done in areas with a very large number of trains (about 500-800 trains/day). In the present study, the following research questions were asked: How does a large number of trains affect noise annoyance and can the differences between Japanese studies (railway noise more annoying than road traffic noise) and European studies (railway noise less annoying than road traffic noise) in part be due to major differences in the number of trains? Socio-acoustic surveys (n=1689) were conducted in residential areas exposed to railway noise with different number of trains (124 trains/day vs. 481 trains/day) and road traffic noise (LAeq,24h 45-65 dB in all areas) The findings show that the number of trains/day, and not only the equivalent sound levels influence how railway noise is perceived. When the number of trains is very large, (481 trains/day), the proportion who are annoyed and report disturbed activities is significantly higher than in a situation with fewer trains (124 trains/day) at equal sound levels and in comparison to road traffic noise >LAeq,24h 55 dB.