Rail traffic generates physical vibration. This mainly stems from contact between wheels and rails whose surfaces have a non-perfect geometry and from the passage of wheels and bogies over track joints and sleepers. This vibration is transmitted as ground-borne vibration and noise or air-borne noise.
Ground-borne vibration is propagated in wave-form in the ground and can be transmitted into foundations of nearby buildings. This causes vibration in the building that can be felt by the people in it. Also, audible sound waves may be produced by resonance generated in walls and ceilings. This is called ground-borne noise.
The harmful effects of rail induced vibrations
In residential areas, the passage of rolling stock on railways or tramways, and the resulting generation of noise and vibration, may annoy the people living alongside the railways, causing everything from discomfort to an adverse impact on the quality of life often resulting in increased levels of stress during daytime and sleeping problems during night-time.
Ground-borne vibration is propagated in wave-form in the ground and can be transmitted into foundations of nearby buildings. This causes vibration in the building that may cause damage to masonry and plaster. Historical buildings and delicate machinery in buildings near rail tracks are adversely affected by this kind of vibration.