Noise levels in homes due to road and rail traffic, 2000-2010

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More than 7,000 homes in the Netherlands experience noise from traffic on highways that exceeds the permissible level. Another 6,000 homes experience excessive noise levels from rail traffic. Noise from road and rail traffic has decreased since 2000, due to measures such as the erection of noise barriers, the use of noise-reducing tarmac (ZOAB) and the use of quieter trains and rails. However, noise levels have increased on the rest of the road network, in particular in built-up areas where the use of noise barriers is not possible.

Noise levels in homes from road traffic

Due to the increase in road traffic, the number of homes affected by noise levels higher than 65 dB Lden increased between 1987 and 2000. This growth was limited to some extent by source measures such as quieter tyres and the use of ZOAB, and other measures such as the erection of noise barriers. Decreasing noise levels were seen after 2000 as the effect of these measures began to outweigh the effect of traffic volume growth.
However, noise levels increased on other roads, in particular in built-up areas where it is difficult to erect noise barriers. Also, most noise-reducing measures are less effective at lower speeds. The increase in noise in urban areas can be seen in the figure above. This growth is not just the result of increasing traffic volume, but is also due to the growth in the number of homes. In the provinces of the Randstad, homes are often built in areas already affected by noise. A number of roads in Limburg have been replaced with ring roads built around urban areas in recent years, and this is reflected in the data.

Noise levels in homes from rail traffic

The number of homes subjected to noise higher than 70 dB from rail traffic decreased steadily between 1987 and 2008, despite a slight increase in rail traffic volume. This decline was due to the use of quieter trains, quieter tracks and the erection of noise barriers. Annual differences are mainly due to fluctuations in the volume of goods transport by rail. Those years with higher noise levels correspond to an increase in goods transport by rail.


  • EU (2002). Directive 2000/49/EC of the European Parliament and the council of 25 June 2002 relating to the assessment and management of environmental noise (link to PDF file:… ). Official Journal of the European Communities no. L 189/12.
  • PBL (2012). Figures based on data from Rijkswaterstaat and ProRail, edited by PBL, Bilthoven.

Technical explanation

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Archive of this indicator

Reference of this webpage

CBS, PBL, RIVM, WUR (2024). Noise levels in homes due to road and rail traffic, 2000-2010 (indicator 0295, version 07,

) Statistics Netherlands (CBS), The Hague; PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague; RIVM National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven; and Wageningen University and Research, Wageningen.