In the Netherlands a new freight-only railway route, the "Betuweroute", is being planned to carry freight traffic from Rotterdam harbour east into Germany. Inhabitants of areas near the future route are concerned about noise and vibration, and question the relevance of current legislation for a "freight-only" line. An analysis of field surveys, examining the relative impact of freight and passenger trains, suggests that insufficient evidence exists to support this concern. A TNO data archive contains, among others, the complete data sets from the British , German  and Dutch  railway noise surveys. An analysis of the role of the proportion of freight trains in the total amount of railway traffic was conducted. While residents are more likely to report annoyance with "freight traffic" generally, it has been found that after the effects of differing noise levels are removed, no consistent differences in dose-response relations were found between routes with a small or high proportion of freight trains. These results do not support the need for special legislative provisions for freight-only lines. © 1996 Academic Press Limited.