The complexity of the processes followed and managed within a multi-structural company such as Italferr is often determined by the need to adopt a homogeneous design approach in a diversified context such as that of the railway sector, based on an Italian regulatory scenario that is difficult to interpret from an environmental point of view and on complex authorisation processes.
Italferr has been involved in the management of environmental issues for years and attributes a priority role to the protection of the territory during the design, realisation and operation phases of railway infrastructure, focusing on the needs expressed by the community in the context of reference. Over the years, Italferr has structured itself to ensure the control and management of the various environmental issues, acquiring unique experience in this sector in terms of quantity and quality.
Environmental design and specialised studies accompany the project from the earliest stages of intervention hypothesis to the executive design. To this end, the Environmental Studies and Design group aims to help make design choices consistent with optimising the landscape and environmental insertion of the work into the territorial context through which it passes. The sector develops specialised studies to verify the environmental and landscape impacts of projects and, more generally, the assessment of the direct and indirect effects that the construction of infrastructure may determine and designs their mitigation measures.
Italferr, moreover, deals with Impact Assessment on sites belonging to the Natura 2000 system: the effects of the realisation of an infrastructure on ecological balances, on the continuity of ecosystems and on the possible alterations of protected elements of the natural system are carefully evaluated by making use of the specialised contribution of naturalists, ecologists, flora and fauna experts. The sensitivity of the places crossed by the infrastructure is reconstructed through detailed field surveys and censuses. Analyses are carried out at both local and wide area levels in order to assess any effects on the balance of the network.
The activities managed by Italferr's specialists pertain to two different contexts, that of environmental authorisations and that of vulnerability to climate change assessment as well as verification of the DNSH principle - "Do No Significant Harm" for projects funded under the National Recovery and Resilience Plan and the National Complementary Plan.
In a context in which railroad noise transmitted by air and through solids is increasingly perceived as disturbing, acoustical and vibration studies emerge as an indispensable tool, during the design phase, to assess and mitigate the environmental impact produced by lines, rail nodes and related works (new and existing) during operation.
Depending on the most accurate basic data available, detailed simulations are carried out in the different scenarios, both before and after the construction of the railway structure (ante-operam, ante and post mitigation) using specialised modelling software for the simulation and calculation of noise propagation.
The experience and activities of the Acoustical and Vibration Studies division is known for being highly specialised and are needed whenever the infrastructure is affected by new construction, upgrading, and expansion work.
The result of these studies, simulations, and evaluations, and thus the abatement and containment actions of environmental noise from the methodological point of view, must primarily concern interventions at the source, along the noise propagation pathway, and only as a last resort are directed to the receptor, in accordance with the provisions of the regulations in force.
The design and sizing of mitigation interventions incorporate, in this sense, the most significant evidence that recent European studies have developed in order to define the best combination, in terms of cost-benefit, of the different types of mitigation interventions.
These studies, which extend beyond the rail sector to the road sector, include assessments of impact not only on the outdoor environment but also on the confined environment, when necessary. In fact, if the achievement of noise mitigation objectives is not technically achievable, direct interventions on receptors are designed, generally consisting of the replacement of fixtures in buildings adjacent to the infrastructure.
Finally, the Acoustical and Vibration Studies division also deals with the acoustic testing of mitigation works in order to verify the conformity of the work carried out as per project, certifying its full regularity.
The Energy Saving division, created by Italferr to analyse opportunities for the rationalisation of energy consumption and the reduction of emissions resulting from the railway infrastructure of the entire national network falls within the framework of national and European objectives of decarbonisation and reduction of global energy needs.
The goal is to identify any inefficiencies so that they can be eliminated or reduced through the implementation of efficiency measures that provide environmental and economic benefits. These activities are possible thanks to the synergy between traditional techniques (such as field surveys) and state-of-the-art techniques (such as simulations of energy needs and system production), both of which are essential in the correct interpretation and calibration of the energy system.