The Impact of Railway Vibrations and How Can It Be Reduced


Railways are vital to modern cities. As transport arteries they allow greater numbers of people to live in concentrated areas, and help to reduce congestion and pollution generated by travelling on our roads. However, railways also create their own issues, and can significantly impact on those that live around the tracks – which, with the increasing density of train lines, accounts for more and more people. Beyond the irritation of the noise (which for most residents, based on the distance they will be from the track, will sit between the noise of a hair dryer and the sound on the ground of a busy road), is the far more substantial problem of vibrations created by trains. People feel them, and will typically learn to tune them out, but over the longer term these vibrations will cause structural problems to a building, and these can be expensive to repair. And, while people will stop noticing that they feel those vibrations, the longer-term effect on the health and comfort levels of a person can be significant. The final impact of this is that areas around trains tend to have lower land values and generate more complaints by residents. It can also limit the developments that can be executed. Communities will be concerned about tracks running close to hospitals, for example, and the effect the vibrations and noise might have on medical equipment and patients at rest can be a cause for concern. So what can be done to address the challenge of railway vibrations? Governments and the operating bodies of public transport networks are increasingly interested in mitigating not only the noise, but the vibrations that train networks produce. Governments have extended infrastructure noise policies to also account for vibrations, for example, creating mandates to protect residents against maximum noise level. In order to determine the impact of a rail’s vibrations, a couple of different factors need to be properly modelled: The number of trains that will make use of the track, and their frequency The number of carriages on each train The speed of the train The distance between the tracks and property The geographic location of the tracks, and the lie of the land Other nearby buildings and their condition In doing so, an accurate model can be developed that can determine whether the tracks will cause an unreasonable burden of noise and vibrations on the local community. There are a number of different approaches that can be taken to reduce the impact of rail vibrations: Rubber insulators: Making use of rubber insulators under the track which dampen vibrations is the best strategy to put in place. These are easy to install either with new tracks or through track maintenance, and are long-lasting and economic. Track maintenance: Keep the tracks and trains well maintained – rickety tracks are more noisy and produce greater vibrations as trains pass over them than tracks and trains that are kept in a constant state of repair. Raise the tracks: Combined with adequate walling and insulation, a raised track will have a greatly reduced vibrations impact than were the tracks located on the ground. Underground tracks: A subway can still cause some vibrations, but the earth will absorb a significant amount of it for those above and around the track. Another option is to supplement the main track lines with less intensive infrastructure. Trams and other light rail, for example, have the benefit that they can be laid down in the middle of a road, and these produce far less vibrations than standard rail lines. Don’t forget construction It’s also important that bodies consider the noise that construction and maintenance works have when working on tracks. Drills and machinery also generate a great deal of noise and vibration disturbance – in some cases more than the trains themselves, and local residents have a right to be aware when they might be disturbed. Communication is key here, both in establishing the hours in which works will be conducted, and those times where it might be necessary to be working in unusual hours, outside of the standard perimeters for construction work. Where possible work should not be continued past 10pm at night, and when it is, the exact dates and expected completion times should be communicated to all nearby residents. Track noise and vibrations are more than just an irritation – when it’s consistent and sustained it can have a substantial impact on a person’s quality of life. As necessary as it is that we have a robust and extended train networks, it is also incumbent on both state governments and maintenance crews to be aware of any impositions they might be placing on a person’s peace and comfort.

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8 Tips For Turning Your Balcony Into A Lush Garden Paradise


More and more people are living in apartments - especially in the hearts of our cities. These are often the only affordable way to enjoy the convenience of living close to work or other facilities, and enjoy the vibrant inner-city lifestyle on evenings and weekends. The downside to this kind of living is that gardens are out. For most living in apartments, the only outdoor space is a balcony. The good news for those with green thumbs, however, is that there is actually an awful lot that you can do with even the smallest balconies, to give you a garden retreat from the city heat. 1. Green the space It’s likely that your balcony uses a tiled or concrete floor. You won’t be able to grow real grass on this, but what you can do is lay down an imitation turf rug. Why would you do this? Because it creates the visual impression of a living garden and, when coupled with real plants and outdoor furnishings, creates the garden atmosphere that you’ll be looking for. 2. Keep furniture to a minimum Because balcony space is quite limited, if you’re going to create the impression of a vibrant, airy garden, you’re not going to have much room for furniture. We recommend a small table and chairs combo, to give you somewhere to enjoy the space, will be more than enough. Leave the rest of the space for plants and pots. 3. Make use of the railings Continuing our quest to make good use of space, railings form the perimeter around your balcony, and you can be clever about making use of those to increase the space further. Hanging small pots on the outside of the railings allows you to introduce the colours of flowers and other small plants into the space while saving the main balcony space for more substantial plants or trees. 4. Make sure you pick plants that can survive on the balcony Nothing ruins a look more than dead plants. There are a couple of things to consider when selecting plants for your balcony: It’s likely that there won’t be as much sun. Most balconies only enjoy sunlight for part of a day, so make sure the plant is hardy enough for shady conditions. It should also be a plant that can tolerate dry conditions – if there is someone living above you with a balcony of their own, then your plants won’t get much rain, and balconies tend to experience more windy conditions – especially in the wind tunnels that tend to get created in cities. Be sure to have the plants watered a couple of times per day, and consider getting an automated watering system to help you look after your garden when you’re out and about. 5. Consider growing a little vegetable and herb garden A satisfying alternative to the traditional small trees and flowers that people use to decorate their balconies is to use the space to grow some vegetables and/or herbs. You can grow a surprising amount of these in a small space, and in addition to giving you a new hobby and activity, you’ll help to cut down on your food bills a little. Arraying a couple of planters around the balcony will each allow you to grow as much as a dozen plants or enough mint, coriander, or parsley to last you for weeks. 6. Build some shelves Use the walls on either side of the balcony to install a couple of rows of shelves, and then place decorative pots with plants on each of them. This is another highly space-efficient way to pack a lot of colour and greenery onto your balcony, and is certainly more visually appealing than a ugly, weathered wall. 7. Don’t forget decorative statues! Most gardens also make use of decorations to enhance and complements the plants – statues, lanterns, bird feeders and fountains are all common garden objects, and many of those will also fit in with the décor of your balcony, to continue to enhance the illusion that it is a “full” garden. 8. Lighting is important too After all the work that you’ve put into creating the garden, naturally you’re going to want to make good use of it, and a well-lit balcony makes for a lovely summer retreat. Hanging lights off the ceiling and on the walls is a good way to start building the ambiance, but also consider a candle lantern for the outdoor table, so you can kick back with a good book and enjoy that summer evening breeze. So many people with balconies don’t realise how much can really be done with the space. Some creative thinking and an understanding on what does, and does not work, for the unique climate of your particular balcony space is all that you need to really enhance your apartment lifestyle, and feel like you’re getting the full garden experience despite living in a concrete block.

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How to Prevent Concrete Cancer


A colloquial term for a number of defects found in concrete, concrete cancer is serious business and needs to be dealt with as soon as it is detected. The best method, however, is prevention. (more…)

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5 Common Waterproofing Issues Commercial Buildings Face

It may seem obvious, but there are many ways a multi-storey building is different to a house. A major difference is the waterproofing issues, as there are many more threats to the businesses using the development as opposed to a single-business structure. (more…)

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Incredible Rooftop Gardens from Around the World


It’s always a good feeling to glimpse a touch of green in the midst of a grey urban sprawl. Rooftop gardens are invading our urban spaces - they’re on the rise, and equal parts eco-friendly and chic. They add beauty to industrial areas and help lessen our impact upon the environment. Plus, they’re also statistically good for employee morale and productivity compared to a drab break. (more…)

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