Last month, it was announced that Singapore’s Land Transport Authority has introduced railway noise barriers as the first phase of a $300 million project. (See First phase of Railway Noise Barrier Project to Complete this Year)
In a land scarce country like Singapore, it is inevitable that railways will be built in close proximity with HDB flats and housing. The Singapore government has been spending on “noise reduction” projects like installing noise barriers and fitting trains with noise damping wheels, and looking at ways to reduce noise generated between surfaces and vehicles tyres.
Very often, construction happens alongside institutions, residential housing, and offices, affecting health and behavior. In Singapore, contractors have to set up real-time noise monitoring meters to continuously monitor the noise generated from their sites. Regulating nuisance noise will be an ongoing challenge for a small city-state like Singapore as the government endeavors to take on more railway projects and building infrastructure.
Noise and Health
Health effects are dependent on the type of noise. Road traffic noise creates a more or less steady background noise that at high levels may carry the risk of not allowing the body any break from the noise. Train noise (at least for high speed trains) and aircraft noise are non-steady events often linked to sleep disturbance. The number of noise events per night can be extracted from the data of train noise and the aircraft statistics, and then can be correlated to noise problems found in an area.
Construction noise is unavoidable, but it, too, can be minimized. SoundPLAN’s GeoDatabase is used to develop scenarios for the different phases of construction. Noise maps can depict each scenario. A detailed analysis of the noise sensitive receivers shows which of the machines/processes is responsible for noise problems. If possible, these operations then will be scheduled for the day time or the operators must investigate if quieter machines or shielding can mitigate the noise.
Nuisance noise have a bigger impact than simply affecting the quality of life of others. If there is no noise regulations in place, noise levels will gradually increase, resulting in certain sections of the urban environment much less desirable as living space. This may have a direct impact on the cost of housing, and once the noise source is gone, prices may change again.
For anyone involved in the purchase or development of new rolling stock, new routes or infrastructure, noise should be a key factor. Indeed, in Europe, ignoring railway noise is not an option, as EU guidelines (Environmental Noise Directives 2002/49/EG) require noise maps to be created for main rail lines and EU-wide carriageways.
Therefore, noise maps are a crucial element in tackling nuisance noise. The Singapore government has taken strides to implement permissible noise levels around the city.
Noise maps are used to identify the cause, location and propagation of sound. Planners can then test set-ups and assess the best options to reduce excessive noise and protect workers and residents from its harmful effects.
SoundPLAN can pinpoint areas with high noise levels. Grid Noise Maps and Facade Noise Maps are used to show the noise exposure of the population for each noise type, and these maps can be combined to show total noise exposure.
If quiet zones are included in the master plan, then traffic planners can direct traffic to arterial roads to ensure traffic stays outside the residential neighborhood or they can regulate traffic speeds to ensure continued quiet during specific hours of the day or night.
Find out how SoundPLAN solutions can identify the noise source.