Investigating the relationship between train speed and ground vibrations using random forest machine learning models



In the Netherlands, concerned citizens have proposed reducing train speed as an effective measure to mitigate annoyance caused by railway-induced vibrations. In the present study the relationship between train speed and other influencing parameters (e.g. axle load, wheel roughness), and ground vibrations was investigated using measurements, at different locations, of ground vibrations caused by the passage of regular freight trains and a test train at different speeds. Measurements have been analysed using multivariate regression models and a random decision forest model. The prevailing uncertainties have also been measured using normalized mean deviation between the model predicted value and the actual value. A comparison of results demonstrates that a ‘trained and tested’ random forest model has certain predictive advantages: i) mean deviation between predicted and actual value is found to be the lowest with random forest model; ii) the random forest model considers all available parameters in the dataset, thus simulating the real situation more closely. However, the model is very location-specific and must therefore be used with caution. In general it is observed that a decrease in train speed results in the reduction of measured vibration levels.