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BUST my buffers — it seems the horns on Melbourne’s trains don’t pass the sound test.
Trains have high and low horn tones that are used by drivers travelling through stations, at level crossings, or passing other trains.
Testing of Metro Trains suburban fleet has revealed that none of its horns fully meets new recommended Australian standards.
The testing followed a request from Public Transport Victoria to investigate ways of lowering noise at night.
The horns on Metro’s new X’Trapolis trains were the loudest, but despite being the closest to the recommended standard still did not meet it.
High tones from X’Trapolis trains recorded an average reading of 110dB; the recommendation for an acceptable town warning device is 96dB to 101dB. Some trains reached an ear-splitting 113 dB.
The minimum recommended decibel limit for a country warning device is 106dB.
Metro says its current practice is for drivers to use the high horn in both urban and country areas, and blames this for most noise complaints relating to its newer trains.
Metro tested the horns on six older Comeng and Siemens made trains, and eight X’Trapolis trains, to see if they met the recommended — though not mandatory — Australian standard adopted last year.
The high note of Comeng trains (99dB) met the requirements for a town warning device most of the time, but measurements recorded outside the range prevented its being fully compliant.
The Siemens train produced the quietest sound. Neither its high nor its low note met requirements of a town or country warning device.
The X’Trapolis horns were said to be “much more piercing and sharp in timbre”.
Metro has recommended considering a restriction on the use of high horns on X’Trapolis trains in urban areas to curb noise complaints. In its place drivers are urged to use a third, softer pop horn.
Metro says that retrospectively modifying its rolling stock to achieve full compliance with the standard “would most likely require significant funding, but would have a beneficial impact on noise complaints”.
The operator said each horn mode on all fleet types showed significant variations between units, which could be attributed to varying unit ages and that the horns may not be regularly tested or maintained.
This article first appeared on www.heraldsun.com.au
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