China: Arched Sound Barrier Protects “Birds’ Paradise” from Railway Noise

China Railway Guangzhou Co. Ltd has successfully tested a fully-enclosed arched sound barrier on the Shenzhen-Maoming section of the Jiangmen-Zhanjiang Railway in Guangdong Province. The barrier is designed to prevent trains from disturbing the nearby “Birds’ Paradise” island. The famous tourist site is home to approximately 30, 000 birds, including night herons and several species of egret, but geographical limitations required this section of the new railway to be constructed less than 800m from the area. Trains pass the island at 200 km/h, but the barrier restricts the increase in additional noise to 0.2 decibels.

Sound barrier on Jiangmen-Zhanjiang Railway to protect Birds' Paradise, including night herons
Night Heron © cuatrok77 under licence

The design and construction of the sound barrier required two and a half years of development by China Railway Guangzhou, Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group Co. Ltd and several research institutes. The cost of the project for the operator was approximately 187 million yuan (23.6 million euros).

The arched barrier is 2036m long and built on a steel framework which incorporates custom panel absorbers and sound boarding, which minimise the acoustic and optical interference created by the trains passing through it.

Li Jianqiang, Chief Engineer of the Construction Section, China Tiesiju Civil Engineering Group Co. Ltd, said:

“Jointly with research institutes, we carried out theoretical analysis and wind tunnel experiment and decided to increase a cost of 187 million yuan to build a fully-enclosed sound barrier.

“The average cost of per kilometer is over 90 million yuan, but what we have invested is the philosophy of green development. The sound barrier in ‘Bird Paradise’ provides successful experience for environmental protection during HSR construction.”

These principles of ‘green development’ were also implemented during construction of the railway. The Shenzhen-Maoming section of the line was built in October–December 2017 to avoid disturbing the birds during their breeding season. The engineers also set up a temporary sound barrier during the works and used low-noise equipment.

The permanent fully-enclosed sound barrier was completely installed on 15 December 2017. The company describes the barrier as ‘an arched lid covering the railway’.

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