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fgourine Dec 21, 2018 06:42 PM
My appartment is located near a bridge where the tram passes, in Grenoble (France). I don't hear any noise from cars driving around. The tram also is quiet, when it passes on the road. But, when it goes on the bridge to cross the river, noise levels are greatly increased (and unbearable). This line has trams every 6 minutes in both directions, from 5:30 a.m. in the morning to 1:30 a.m at nigth (so all day long). I can't find anyone from the city's public transport company to answer my questions about noise levels near my appartment. The situation is going on for a while, and it started to impact my health since 2014 (I am 77 years old and I am retired).
So, I am writing hear to ask what are the rules from the european agency on this topic. Also, I don't know what can I do to make this company study my case and solve this noise levels issue.
Best regards,
Replies (2)
EEA Jan 15, 2019 11:53 AM
Dear fgourine,

Thank you for your question about noise pollution and your interest in the European Environment Agency (EEA).
We apologise for the long response time. There are some legal questions related to your enquiry which we are currently working on confirming with other EU bodies.

The legal basis for handling of noise pollution is found in the Environmental noise directive (EC 2002/49, https://eur-lex.europa.eu/[…]/?uri=celex%3A32002L0049).
The directive establishes that member states must measure and report environmental noise to be made available as noise maps, as well as create action plans for managing noise issues and effects, including noise reduction for major railways which have more than 60.000 passages per year.

This raises some questions about whether the city tram in Grenoble falls under that definition and, if so, which would be the competent authority for creating an action plan.

Answering your enquiry may take longer than we usually strive for. Please bear with us until then.

Best regards,
EEA Enquiry Service
EEA Jan 17, 2019 10:36 AM
Dear fgourine,

There were some errors in the preliminary response given above. We want to correct them here:
The Environmental Noise Directive (END) distinguishes between railways inside and outside agglomerations – areas where people live in concentration. Inside agglomerations, noise for all railways must be measured and reported. Outside agglomerations, the threshold for requiring measuring and reporting was originally 60.000 movements annually for the first mapping done in 2007, but has since been lowered to 30.000 movements. We apologise for the inaccuracies.

The EU legislation on noise is described here: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/noise/directive_en.htm
However, each Member State may also have additional national noise policies/regulations on environmental noise.

The EEA supports the European Commission in implementing the EU Environmental Noise Directive by collecting data from the Member States.
The END obliges countries to report noise data and action plans to the European Commission once every five years, beginning in 2007.

Grenoble is an urban area of more than 100.000 inhabitants. Therefore, under END, France is required to submit data on the number of people exposed to average day-evening-night levels (Lden) >=55dB and the number of people exposed to night levels (Lnight) >=50dB for all sources of noise (i.e. road, rail, air and industry) in Grenoble. Regarding the END, tram lines are to be considered and treated as trains, no matter what the traffic is within agglomerations, and only if above 30.000 annual movements outside agglomerations.

You can see the current information we have for Grenoble on railway noise in the following EEA webpages:

The END also requires action plans to be drawn up for the major transport sources and the large urban areas (agglomerations of more than 100.000 inhabitants), which aim to reduce the impact of noise upon the affected population. However, the specific types of measures included in these action plans are decided at Member State level. The member state can decide not to apply any mitigation/management in an area affected by noise but reasons have to be described in the action plan.
The action plans were to have been drawn up by 18 July 2008 for the first round of noise mapping and then again by 19 July 2013 for the second round of noise mapping. The third round of noise mapping is to be submitted by 18 January 2019. The minimum requirements for action plans are set out in Annex V of the END.
The action plan submitted for the second round of noise mapping (2012) for the Grenoble urban area is the following:

Regarding the health effects, The World Health Organisation, in the Environmental Noise Guidelines for the European Region 2018, recommends reducing noise levels produced by railway traffic below 54 dB Lden as railway noise above this level is associated with adverse health effects. Likewise, the guidelines recommend reducing noise levels produced by railway traffic during night time below 44 dB Lnight as night-time railway noise above this level is associated with adverse effects on sleep. However, these guideline values are not a legal requirement.

For more advice on health effects of noise, you may consider contacting your national health protection agency or national department of health.

Best regards,
EEA Enquiry Service