The growth of railway ground vibration problems - A review

David P. Connolly*, Grzegorz P. Marecki, Georges Kouroussis, Ioannis Thalassinakis, Peter K. Woodward

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

212 Citations (Scopus)


Ground-borne noise and vibration from railway lines can cause human distress/annoyance, and also negatively affect real estate property values. Therefore this paper analyses a collection of technical ground-borne noise and vibration reports, detailing commercial vibration assessments undertaken at 1604 railway track sections, in 9 countries across the world. A wide range of rail projects are considered including light rail, tram lines, underground/tunnelled lines, freight, conventional rail and high speed rail. It documents the rise in ground-borne vibration problems and trends in the prediction industry, with the aim of informing the current research area. Firstly, the reports are analysed chronologically and it is found that railway vibration is a growing global concern, and as such, assessments have become more prevalent. International assessment metrics are benchmarked and it is found that velocity decibels (VdB), vibration dose value (VDV) and peak particle velocity (PPV) are the most commonly used methods of assessment. Furthermore, to predict vibration levels, the physical measurement of frequency transfer functions is preferential to numerical modelling. Results from the reports show that ground vibration limits are exceeded in 44% of assessments, and that ground-borne noise limits are exceeded in 31%. Moreover, mitigation measures were required on approximately 50% of projects, revealing that ground-borne noise and vibration is a widespread railroad engineering challenge. To solve these problems, the most commonly used abatement strategy is a modification of the railtrack structure (active mitigation), rather than the implementation of a more passive solution in the far-field.

Original languageEnglish
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Early online date20 Oct 2015
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2015


  • Environmental impact assessment (EIA)
  • Human exposure-annoyance
  • Indoor reradiated sound
  • Property price reduction
  • Railroad ground-borne noise
  • Railtrack vibration mitigation
  • Railway ground vibration
  • Real estate values

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Pollution
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Environmental Engineering


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