GERMAN RAIL (DB) is pioneering the introduction of transparent lineside noise reduction barriers. The first panels of the MetaWindow barrier are due to be installed on Line 4 of the Hamburg S-Bahn later this year.

The new barrier combines the noise-absorbing properties of conventional concrete panels with the visual advantages of transparent walls, allowing passengers to see surrounding landscapes and cityscapes.

DB says the new barriers have been designed using meta technology, which increases the acoustic efficiency when compared with conventional noise barriers through the unique geometry of the soundproofing elements of each panel.

The German infrastructure manager worked jointly with Italian start-up Phononic Vibes from 2020 to develop the new barriers from initial concept to series production at its DB Mindbox technology incubator.

DB claims that the MetaWindow is the first such product on the market that is classified as highly absorbent in terms of sound absorption, achieving sound insulation of 34 to 37dB while simultaneously maintaining transparency of up to 72%.

Although the material costs of the new barrier are higher than conventional products, DB says that total construction costs are likely to be similar thanks to savings in obtaining planning consent for the visually unobtrusive transparent panels.

Approximately 3250km of the German network is due to be fitted with noise protection barriers by 2030 with a similar amount to follow by 2050. In addition, existing barrier systems are likely to be extended and renewed over this period.

“With the transparent noise barrier, municipalities no longer have to choose between appearance and functionality,” says Mr Berthold Huber, DB board member for infrastructure.