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REM noise and vibrations in operation

As with any transportation system, the REM makes some noise and generates a certain amount of vibration when in operation. This impact has been studied and mitigation measures are planned.

The REM and noise

From train to light rail

For residents living near the former Deux-Montagnes train line, the transition from train to light rail means changes in the sounds made by the system, with the removal of whistles announcing arrival at the station and the removal of level crossings and hence of alarms that sound when a train approaches. These audible warning mechanisms are no longer required, as the REM will travel on a dedicated, protected track, which will never cross cars or other road users. In addition, REM trains will be much shorter than the trains of the former Deux-Montagnes line, making each passage less intrusive and noisy. 

What can create noise in the REM’s case? 

While the REM’s rolling stock was designed to minimize rubbing, vibrations and noise, once the light rail is in operation, the sound may be audible. The noise will come from two main sources: the passage of REM cars and stationary sources. 

The noise from the passage of cars may be caused by:    

  • Machinery (motor, ventilation, etc.) – When stopped or at low speed (entering and exiting the stations) 
  • Interaction between the wheels and the rails – Medium to high speed (in movement) 

The noise produced by adding stationary sources may be caused by the: 

  • Systems in place at the stations (e.g. ventilation, heating/air conditioning) and the power supply  
  • Presence of bus terminals, parking lots or drop-off areas 

Analysis of noise and impacts

Concretely, what does this mean for REM users and neighbours? Let’s discuss noise and its perception in time.  

 

How is the noise impact calculated?  

Unit of measurement  

Since sound is perceived through the ears, it is difficult to assess objectively. The noise tolerance threshold is subjective and affected by the accumulation of auditory sensations during the day. The sound level in decibels provides a concrete idea of the situation, though. Sound intensity is measured in decibels or adjusted decibels (dB or dBA). The increase in sound follows a logarithmic scale. For example, an increase of 3 dBA is only slightly perceptible to the human ear, while an increase of 10 dBA is perceived as twice as loud as the initial noise level.

In the case of an increase, it is important to consider the initial level. For instance, an increase of 10 dBA in a location initially at 20 dBA will be less significant than an increase of 10 dBA in a different location initially at 80 dBA. 

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0 dBA 40 dBA 60 dBA 80 dBA 140 dBA
Threshold of audible sound  Quiet room  Normal conversation  Conversation is difficult; very loud  Intolerable sound level (e.g. jet take-off at < 30 m) 

 

Known sounds in our environment and dBA levels

Analysis of the REM’s noise  

The cumulative noise due to the passage of REM cars was modelled for 24 hours, at the limit of “sensitive receivers” meaning residential, recreational and institutional (e.g. schools, hospitals) properties along the entire route. 

To assess the noise impact of the REM, a large number of inputs were considered: 

Removal of exo train noise along the former Deux-Montagnes line

Addition of the REM’s noise, taking into consideration frequency and speed, structure elevation, route curves, etc. 

Consideration of ambient noise, road traffic, topography, proximity to residential areas, etc. (current situation, before commissioning of the REM) 

In the case of stationary infrastructure, individual stationary sources of noise are analyzed.

 

Noise impact of the REM  

The noise impact of the REM may be imperceptible, meaning that the noise made by the passage of REM cars may fade away into existing ambient noise, such as highway noise. In some places, such as the South Shore and the West Island, the noise from REM cars disappears into the ambient noise of Highway 10 and Highway 40.

The noise impact of the passage of REM cars is considered significant when the difference between the current and the projected sound level of the REM in operation over 24 hours generates a moderate to strong impact based on the Ministère des Transports du Québec road noise policy.

For more information about significant impacts, consult the fact sheet  here: 

Learn more

In all cases where it was identified that the REM’s noise would have a significant impact, the project includes measures to comply with government thresholds.

Mitigation measures

Measures implemented by the REM  

 

Installation of noise barriers 

Noise barriers are installed wherever the modelling identified significant sound impacts along the route. The installation of these barriers has already begun in some sectors. 

The noise barriers are composed of white, 100% PVC prefabricated panels, installed on galvanized steel posts. Inside, they contain acoustic insulation that absorbs sound and prevents it from bouncing.

Is there a noise barrier near you?  

If a significant noise impact has been identified near you, a noise barrier was included in the project. Discover where these barriers are located in the various sectors: 

Sud-Ouest borough 

Canora / Mont-Royal 

Saint-Laurent and Ahuntsic-Cartierville boroughts 

Pierrefonds-Roxboro borough 

Laval 

Deux-Montagnes 

If you can’t find your sector in the maps, it’s because there are no noise barriers near you. If you want to know more about the impact of the REM’s noise near you, though, the decibel measurement is available in the full sound modelling for all the listed addresses. 

Mitigation measures for stationary sources 

Mitigation measures are also planned for stationary infrastructure, such as the installation of silencers and the construction of artificial obstacles such as barriers, that are integrated with the design of the infrastructure.

Monitoring in operation  

Once the REM is in service, a sound monitoring program will be implemented to ensure that mitigation measures are effective and that noise levels correspond to the modelling. If the monitoring finds additional significant impacts, extra measures will be implemented.

Fact sheet

Noise in operation

Information on REM noise in operation

Fact sheet

Vibrations in operation

Information on REM vibrations in operation

Full sound modelling

Detailed sound modelling was done to assess the anticipated ambient noise due to the passage of REM cars in operation. Consult the full sound modelling.

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