Tunnel gradients and aural health criterion for train passengers

Natalia Montenegro Palmero, Alan Vardy (Lead / Corresponding author)

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)
985 Downloads (Pure)


An inconvenient consequence of the UIC health and safety criterion for allowable pressure changes in railway tunnels is highlighted. It is shown that the criterion limits allowable speeds in long tunnels with large changes of elevation much more than it does in equivalent tunnels with small changes in elevation. The constraint is especially strong for trains travelling uphill, but it can also exist for trains travelling downhill. Possible ways of avoiding the problem without reducing speed are considered and are found to be practicable in some cases. However, they are of uncertain suitability because they rely on exploiting a particular feature of the safety criterion in a manner that is unlikely to have been intended when it was mandated. In addition, attention is drawn to an ambiguity inherent in the application of the criterion to certain types of tunnel. Suggestions are made for simple modifications to the criterion and comparisons are made with conditions experienced routinely in commercial aviation.
This article was originally published by Sage and is available here: http://pif.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/05/31/0954409713490684

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)821-832
Number of pages22
JournalProceedings of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers Part F-Journal of Rail and Rapid Transit
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jun 2013
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2014


  • aural safety criterion
  • passenger comfort
  • long tunnels
  • elevation change
  • gradients
  • High-speed


Dive into the research topics of 'Tunnel gradients and aural health criterion for train passengers'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this