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Seen but not heard


A combination of rolling stock and track design is expected to make West Rail one of the quietest railways in the world.

Much of the above ground section of West Rail runs close to densely populated urban areas, putting pressure on KCRC to ensure trains transmit no more than 55dBa as they move about the system.

Added to this is Hong Kong's stringent Noise Control Ordinance, which means that the new West Rail trains will be among the quietest in the world. Aluminium-clad skirts lined with a sintered aluminium layer will damp down noise made by wheels on track. And manufacturer Itochu-Kinki Sharyo-Kawasaki has also developed more aerodynamic fan blades for the trains' air conditioning system so that roof mounted extractors produce very little noise.

Streamlined nose cones of West Rail 154 train cars will minimise noise made by the pressure waves as trains go into and out of tunnels.

And train vehicle suspension has been developed to ensure trains ride as smoothly as possible, further limiting noise generated.

Tracks are also designed to absorb noise. On the 13.4km viaduct section where noise control is especially problematic, track will run on a 'floating slab' track bed resting on rubber bearings to reduce vibration transmitted into the structure, reduced further by track fasteners.

Running each side, 1m above track level, are parallel insulated concrete walkways which will trap sound escaping from under the train mounted skirts.

The concrete viaduct box girder has the walls of the web directly under each rail, to minimise the amplifying 'drum' effect.

Most of the tunnelled section of the route uses less expensive track fixed to concrete monoblocks, set on microcellular pads with rubber boots encased in concrete.

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