COMMENTARY: Noise Measurements and Rail Traffic Development: A Swedish Case Study
Public involvement in the planning process is a prerequisite for democratic outcomes. Environmental issues regarding impacts of sound tend to be limited to mere exercises in noise estimation and guideline values. Such information is difficult for the layman to understand, and such a lack of understanding produces shortcomings in the democratic process. In addition to decibel calculations interpretable by experts, the sonic environment also can be described in more accessible ways. This article reports on a concrete planning case, the widening of the railway through Åkarp in southern Sweden, where the usual calculations of equivalent noise and maximum noise are undergoing critical analysis. In order to complement the noise description, a new measurement has been devised, “high noise time,” which is equal to the total time per 24 hours in which trains pass through a place without stopping. The frequency and duration of the passing of trains may be a better measure of disturbance than the maximum noise peak per passage or the equivalent (average) noise level distributed over 24 hours. Film technology also has been developed as a method for recording the frequency and duration of train passage.
Environmental Practice 9:119–127 (2007)(Received March 21 2006)
(Revised April 10 2007)
(Accepted April 24 2007)
c1 Address correspondence to: Erik Skärbäck, Professor in Regional Planning, Department of Landscape Planning, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, 230 53 Alnarp, Sweden; (e-mail) Erik.Skarback@ltj.slu.se