asked Her Majesty's Government:
What assessment they have made of the effect of the European Commission's proposals on rail noise, in particular the difference between composite braking systems and cast iron brakes in reducing noise levels and the fitting of spark guards on wagons fitted with composite brakes. [HL5766]
The European Commission estimates that fitting composite brake systems can reduce noise from freight wagons by up to eight decibels. A substantial number of UK freight wagons are already fitted with such systems.
European Union rules governing the construction of freight wagons, provided for in the Freight Wagon Technical Specifications for Interoperability, require the fitment of spark guards to all wagons including those fitted with composite brake systems where the floor of the wagon does not provide such protection. This reflects the widespread use of cast iron brake blocks in continental Europe. The Freight Wagon Technical Specification for Interoperability is currently being revised and the European Railway Agency has indicated that this issue could be addressed as part of that revision.