The first converted wagons will enter service from the end of next month with 12 wagons set for testing over the ensuing 18-month period. VTG says the experiences from these trials will help it decide whether LL brake blocks should be fitted to additional wagons.

"Noise reduction is a social responsibility to which we have committed ourselves," says Dr Heiko Fischer, VTG CEO. "This project demonstrates that we are able to find effective solutions to this issue, together with our customers."

VTG has equipped new wagons with noise-reducing K-brake blocks since 2005, and 20% of its fleet is now fitted with low-noise brake blocks. The company has also tested other noise reductions measures, including wheelset coating, low-noise wheelset discs and noise damping bogie running gear.

However, Fischer questioned the levels of funding available for such initiatives.

"Funding for noise reduction has to be improved in order to achieve significant results," Fischer says. "This is a task for Europe and we need the regulations and support programmes to directly benefit wagon owners on a European level in order to achieve an extensive reduction in noise emissions. To this end all of the parties involved have to be brought together: governments and associations, network operators, wagon owners and customers."