Examination of Rail Dampers with Respect to Noise and Vibration Mitigation
Nowadays there are more and more possibilities to mitigate noise and vibration emitted by railway transport to the lower levels. Among them, rail dampers with highly viscous properties placed on the rail web, fixed with adhesives or other methods, appeared as a new element in the railway superstructure. The elements are applied to reduce noise and vibration by transforming the vibration energy of the rail web into heat, through their large internal friction. Many companies produce rail web elements and apply them with success abroad. Domestic manufacturers have already appeared in Hungary; however, the installation of these elements is still very limited. This publication is intended to introduce the rail dampers and to demonstrate their efficiency through laboratory and field measurements. Experimental modal analysis was used during the laboratory test to determine the eigenfrequencies, the damping factors and the mode shapes of an experimental rail section, thus analyzing the vibration damping and noise reduction effect of the elements. Field measurements were also carried out at a segment installed with rail web elements in Hungary and its vicinity, under standardized conditions. By averaging measured noise level values for various types of trains, comparable noise reduction of the investigated rail web element can be achieved. The laboratory and field test results confirmed that the rail web elements can be suitable for rolling noise reduction and vibration damping in most of the cases. The results of the measurements provide guidance and information for future development of the elements.