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HS2 SoundLab Demonstrations,

Simulating the sound of trains along the proposed HS2 route.

Imagine if you could hear the sound of a new railway long before it was built. This is what our state-of-the-art SoundLab does for the UK’s proposed HS2 line. It allows people to hear first-hand both what the new high-speed trains could sound like and the impact of noise reduction measures along the proposed route.

Questions answered

SoundLab has been used in HS2 technology demonstrations to articulate how the latest technology can make a high-speed railway a better neighbour. The demonstrations respond to questions from stakeholders, such as:

  • Are high-speed trains noisier than other trains I am used to hearing?
  • As trains go much faster, do they become much noisier?
  • What difference will noise barriers make

Following the technology demonstrations, HS2 Ltd has committed to procure quieter trains. The demonstrations also showed HS2 Ltd and stakeholders the effect of noise barriers. Like High Speed 1, over 75% of the surface sections of HS2 will include noise barriers such as cuttings, fences and landscaped earthworks.

Sound in your area

Further ‘in your area’ demonstrations illustrate what high-speed trains might sound like in different locations along the route – from quiet rural locations to suburban areas – and at different distances from the line. We estimate that over 25,000 people have listened to these demonstrations.

How do we know that the sound they are listening to is accurate? Because the demonstrations are based on recordings and have been rigorously tested and reviewed by independent panels of specialists in railway noise. In addition, they are available through in three verified forms: in our SoundLabs at Arup’s offices; via the portable SoundLab Lite, which can be taken to presentations; and in special sound booths at public exhibitions.

The ‘in your area’ demonstrations have resulted in changes to the proposals and, it is hoped, lessened many people’s fears about the noise impact of the scheme.

Creating the demonstrations

The simulated train sound was created by using calibrated recordings of the latest 217mph high-speed trains used in France – taken at different distances from the track.

This sound has then been adjusted to take into account the expected speed and length of HS2 trains in the UK, and HS2 Ltd’s initial proposals for the use of noise mitigation measures the latest train technology.

The recordings have then been overlaid with ambient sounds recorded at a number of locations that are representative of large residential communities along the line of route.

The sounds recorded on site and in SoundLab are verified using sound level meters that meet the highest international standard, and have been reviewed by independent panels of railway noise experts.