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Blending into the landscape
Although rail traffic is much more environmentally friendly than road or air traffic, there will always be some form of impact on the landscape. Infrabel has implemented a number of important measures to reduce the impact of rail traffic on the environment and on its surroundings as much as possible.
Noise and vibration
Rail transport and passing trains can cause noise and vibrations. Although this disturbance is relatively low compared with the noise of air or road traffic, Infrabel tries to take measures where possible to minimise this impact.
Infrabel spares no effort to further reduce the noise pollution caused by rail traffic.
- Noise-reducing walls or screens, green walls or, where possible, covered railway beds are used when constructing new lines.
- Long-welded rails are used to make up more than 90% of Infrabel’s main lines. They reduce the number of transitions between successive rails, and hence also reduce the corresponding vibration.
- All rails are regularly checked for corrugation, which may increase the sound of the contact with the train wheels. Where necessary, rails are replaced.
In accordance with European Directive 2002/49/EC the SNCB Group has drawn up noise pollution maps for all lines with more than 60,000 trains a year, together with the Regions. These maps can be viewed per region:
The railway verge as an ecotope
Infrabel’s 3,500 km of railway verges constitute an extensive ecological network, linking nature and forest areas. Animals use them to move around. Where possible, Infrabel prefers a verge management approach that takes into account the environmental and aesthetic values of the railway verge.
- Mechanical weed control is given priority. Infrabel uses minimal pesticides where possible. As a result, the environmental impact of herbicides used in recent years has been reduced by more than 95%.
- Seasonal mechanical and technical maintenance of the areas is a priority.
- Nature association vzw Natuurpunt collaborates with Infrabel on four ecological verge management projects.
- Green walls and ecoducts are regularly integrated when building new infrastructure or in case of renovation. For large infrastructure projects Infrabel commissions environmental impact studies (EIA) and provides for natural compensation where necessary.
- In 2008, the SNCB Group mapped the lines adjacent to Natura 2000 sites. Infrabel closely collaborates with the managers of these areas when works need to be carried out on our lines.
Advanced technology for weed control
Infrabel uses a smart train to minimise the use of herbicides. This train uses a camera and a powerful computer program to automatically track the biggest concentrations of weed along the tracks, which are then sprayed with herbicides. In this way the amount of herbicides used is reduced by 30% and unwanted vegetation also decreases by 30%. This train covers 10,000 km of tracks every year.