A way to reduce ground-borne vibrations and prolong the life of rail track components is by introducing resilient elements creating a mass-spring-damper systems. In such a system, a given mass (the track itself and the train) interact with the spring (a resilient material) to isolate vibrations. The higher the mass, the more effective the isolation. Therefore, resilient mats at the basis of the system work best to mitigate ground-borne noise and vibrations.
An aspect that needs serious consideration when introducing a solution is the impact on the environment. The railway market is conservative and for good reasons. The structures are used to transport people and are built to last for decades. That is why the railway market reuses solutions that have been installed for years. In the past, building a tramway or railway was a sustainable project in itself, because of its energy efficiency. These days, more and more stakeholders are extremely careful about the materials used in a construction. They insist on the use of sustainable and environmentally friendly materials. Due to the continuous pressure and friction in a track system, particles of materials used will eventually find their way to the drainage system and end up in rivers and oceans, or simply end up in the soil. Therefore, many countries introduce new regulations demanding the use of sustainable materials.
Resilient mats made of stone wool are a perfect example of a sustainable and environmental friendly material. Stone wool is made of natural rock, spun into wool. It is formed from over 200 million years old diabase rock, one of earth’s most abundant materials. Stone wool is safe for humans and the environment and recyclable, fitting in a circular economy.