Buying house backing onto train tracks...

SEA222

New Member
Joined
29 Jun 2020
Messages
3
Location
Lancaster
Hey there! We are thinking of buying a house in Lancaster, which backs on to the railway track. The house is about 25 metres away from the track, and is in the new Persimmon St George’s Walk development, immediately south of the River Lune. We’re wondering how often we’d expect to hear trains, what types, trains at night? My wife is a really light sleeper with bad insomnia, she sleeps with the window closed and a somewhat loud white noise going but still worried the trains may be an issue, or if they may cause a lot of vibrations to the house. If anyone has any information that would help, that would be amazing! Thanks so much!

Steven
 
Sponsor Post - registered members do not see these adverts; click here to register, or click here to log in
R

RailUK Forums

LancasterRed

Member
Joined
21 May 2018
Messages
156
I lived a fair distance away from the tracks but could still hear the Caley sleeper and some freight trains. They can be loud, but in terms of other trains you'll have to wait on someone else to tell you.

Main traction is 195s, 325s, 350s, 390s, 397s and whatever freight during other times - some DMUs at night which can go thunk but I can't say much as I've never rode them sober.
 

Brissle Girl

Member
Joined
17 Jul 2018
Messages
806
That’s the main West Coast Main Line, so will be very busy day and night. Lots of passenger and freight services. If your wife is that concerned about it, at 25m I would think very carefully before going ahead.
 

driver9000

Established Member
Joined
13 Jan 2008
Messages
3,851
It's a 24 hour railway with regular freight through the night. It's possible you'll get used to them, I used to live around 0.5 mile from the WCML with nothing between the house and the railway and hardly noticed them after a while.

During the day you'll have a regular procession of local and express passenger trains plus freight and at night you'll have container trains going north and south. You're pretty close to Carlisle Bridge so most passenger trains will either be arriving or departing so won't be moving particularly fast but the freight will be passing through up to 75mph.
 

Mathew S

Established Member
Joined
7 Aug 2017
Messages
2,111
My brother lives in a building adjacent to the railway line in Lancester - literally overlooking the station - and does not experience any problems. He can hear the passenger services coming and going, but other than that says it doesn't disturb him at all.
 

gimmea50anyday

Established Member
Joined
8 Jan 2013
Messages
2,834
Location
Back Cab
Main Roads are noisier but tend to be constant whereas a train may hammer past or accelerate out of Lancaster for about 5 seconds every ten minutes. The only way to be sure is scout the area. Maybe find a friend or colleague living in a similar position and pay them a visit or book into a line side hotel
 

Bovverboy

Established Member
Joined
1 Dec 2013
Messages
1,829
I lived a fair distance away from the tracks but could still hear the Caley sleeper and some freight trains. They can be loud, but in terms of other trains you'll have to wait on someone else to tell you.

Main traction is 195s, 325s, 350s, 390s, 397s and whatever freight during other times - some DMUs at night which can go thunk but I can't say much as I've never rode them sober.
350s no longer run through Lancaster.

Types not listed above which do still run through Lancaster are 156s on some of the Barrows and whatever happens to be running the Leeds trains these days. The last time I was in Lancaster it was mainly Pacers, I don't suppose it will be now.
 

Condor7

Member
Joined
13 Jul 2012
Messages
949
Location
Penrith
We bought a brand new house on the Aire Valley line about 20 years ago, with the railway at the end of the garden. it was (and still is) a very busy line during the day, although much quieter on a night. My wife like yours was very concerned about train noise but after a relatively short while we both got to the point where we hardly noticed them.
 

furnessvale

Established Member
Joined
14 Jul 2015
Messages
3,771
Over and above the train noise, what sort of bridge is it? If it is a hollow box section, heavy freights "could" set up a booming noise as they pass over, noisier than the actual train.

The obvious answer is to go trainspotting at your own proposed front door for a few hours (day and night) to assess the noise levels. You may even find a new hobby! :lol:
 

Brissle Girl

Member
Joined
17 Jul 2018
Messages
806
It’s also worth noting that at the moment traffic levels are reduced, and this will be particularly true of freight traffic. And as another example of that, there will only be 2 16 coach sleeper services trundling past in the middle of the night instead of the usual 4.

The developer may reassure you by referencing triple glazing, but bear in mind if you prefer to have a window open at night (and the energy efficiency of modern houses can make them very warm in the summer), then this will obviously negate any sound insulation.

Another thing to do is to look at Realtimetrains for Lancaster, and make sure you use the detailed view to include all freight services and non stopping services. You can then get an idea of how many trains run overnight without camping out.
 

DynamicSpirit

Established Member
Joined
12 Apr 2012
Messages
4,679
I know it's not the same information you're asking for, but have you thought about the risk of flooding there? I'm not familiar with that particular development, but as far as I can make out on the map, it's very close to the bank of the River Lune and also not far above sea level. Lancaster City Centre has had problems with floods a couple of times over the last decade or so, and as sea levels rise with climate change, that risk can only get worse - the River Lune is tidal at that spot. Personally I don't think there's any way I'd buy a house around there for that reason alone.

Also, from that location, it's virtually impossible to travel anywhere by road without first going through the very congested one way system around Lancaster City Centre. (Though at least you are within walking distance of the station so you can use the train).
 
Last edited:

Rockhopper

Member
Joined
29 Apr 2019
Messages
458
Please don't believe anything in the noise assessment which was submitted and paid for by the developers. Even with extra ventilation (note this doesn't mean air conditioning) they are assuming you'll sit in your house with all the windows shut in the height of summer. Also at night there will be less other noise around which wound tend to mask the sound of the railway and make it sound louder. Extra vents etc (even acoustic ones) will still allow noise into the house.
 

071

Member
Joined
24 Mar 2019
Messages
37
Location
Chester
Hi Steven,

I have lived in two houses that backed onto the railway. One at 22m, on a moderately busy non-electrified double-track mainline, and the other 200m from the West Coast Main Line - the same line as your proposed purchase.

At 22m you can feel every train that passes, let alone hear them. I lived there for 10 years.
At 200m you certainly hear them, though of course some are more noisy than others. I lived there for 2 years.

You do eventually get used to them and at times I wouldn't have been able to tell you when the last train had passed.

Passenger stock tends to be reasonably quiet. Higher speed trains can cause a pressure wave to hit the house, even at 75mph.

What surprised me the most when I moved to the second house was the noise of electric-hauled freight. I thought it would be quiet. It isn't. And there's a lot of it on the WCML.

The latter house, also a new build, had noise-proofing stipulations in the planning permission but they weren't worth the paper they were written on, in my opinion.

In the summer, when it's hot - like last week - most people are going to want to keep the windows open day and night. That's not going to be much fun and is likely to ruin your night's sleep.

The other thing to think of is track maintenance. This tends to happen at night, over weekends, bank holidays and Christmas. You will, occasionally, have noisy works with plenty of lights going on day and night right outside your house.

And then add in the flood risk, as pointed out by P Binnersley above - I checked on the Environment Agency flood map to confirm. In my view, this doesn't seem like a prime piece of real estate.

As Brissle Girl wisely said earlier in this thread "think very carefully before going ahead."
Would I buy it? No way.

As a new user I'm not sure if you can DM, but if you can, feel free if you need more info.
 

50039

Member
Joined
8 Mar 2015
Messages
388
Location
Tring
I live 400m from the southern section of the WCML which is in a cutting at its closest... for me, much depends on the wind direction. During the day it’s not really noticeable with all other daytime noise... At night, when it’s hot and the windows are open and everything is quiet - I can hear freight trains for miles... personally they don’t bother me, I don’t sleep well anyway, but it’s quite staggering how the sound travels
 

MotCO

Member
Joined
25 Aug 2014
Messages
1,107
I moved from a quiet area to a main road, and, yes, you do get used to the noise.

Another issue may be if you have young children - will their sleep patterns be disturbed, particularly if there is any rail maintenance at night?
 

MotCO

Member
Joined
25 Aug 2014
Messages
1,107
, but it’s quite staggering how the sound travels
... particularly at night. When I was young, I lived in a town about a mile from the railway, and when the conditions were right, I could hear the trains at night.
 

PeterC

Established Member
Joined
29 Sep 2014
Messages
2,612
Given the right atmospherics the sound of a train can travel well over a mile but it is normally very faint.

I used to work just across the road from the GWML in Slough. Noise wasn't an issue but we could feel the vibration when one of the Mendip stone trains went past.
 
Joined
13 Apr 2011
Messages
544
Location
Helsby
Our old family house backed on to a freight line with regular traffic. The garden was about 30yrds long and you could feel every wheel go over every joint in the track when you were in the house.
That said you do get used to it.
Would I buy a house right next to a very busy station on a very busy national main line? Only if it was very, very cheap. Bearing in mind the proximity of the River Lune and the associated risk of flooding and insurance issues that will surely follow I'd stay clear.
 

Mikey C

Established Member
Joined
11 Feb 2013
Messages
3,421
I live very near the Northern Line, and indeed Golders Green depot. If anything it's not the noise of trains which is noticeable (you get used to it) but rather maintenance workers at nighttime shouting to each other or using angle grinders (or whatever) on the rails!
 

notverydeep

Member
Joined
9 Feb 2014
Messages
559
As someone who sees some of the feedback from neighbours of the rail network on which I work, I would say it is definitely engineering work that causes more issues than the trains themselves. As those above have said, you get used to the regular trains (I did for one brief 4 months in a student rental by the Huddersfield to Penistone line), but it is the shouts (and often choice language), lights and noisy machines that accompany works, be it maintenance (fairly regular) or heavy engineering work (less common) that cause most grief.

Immediate neighbours are normally notified by the Infrastructure Controller / Network Rail by letter or leaflet drop about the major works and beware that such works especially can go on all weekend, night and day continuosly and they sometimes come back weekend after weekend. This type of work is sporadic, you would see little in the first few years, then a burst, but then there will be little for a decade. Depends on your luck (and the condition of the track nearby).
 

Horizon22

Member
Joined
8 Sep 2019
Messages
545
Location
London
I live very near the Northern Line, and indeed Golders Green depot. If anything it's not the noise of trains which is noticeable (you get used to it) but rather maintenance workers at nighttime shouting to each other or using angle grinders (or whatever) on the rails!
I'd say living near to a depot is even worse than a running line; movements primarily at night and early mornings, louder noises (horn test etc.) and - as you mentioned - regular maintenance activities.

I live about 100m away from a line in London but its a low speed junction and there are some other flats in the direct line of sight to railway. Barely notice it. And I work nights occasionally so I'd notice irregular noise.
 

trebor79

Established Member
Joined
8 Mar 2018
Messages
1,613
I used to live in a house that backed onto the Leamside Line. Probably 35 metres away, with the line on a 5m high embankment. As pointed out above, you will feel as well as hear a freight train approaching.
In our case, the glasses in the kitchen cupboard would start tinkling a minute or so before the train passed. Then other stuff would start vibrating, sort of coming and going in waves, until you could actually feel the vibration, and as the train passed hear it too. My recollection is that the sound seened to come from within the house (I guess transmitted through foundations and walls) as much as outside. Then everything would gradually subside, until a minute or so later just the glasses were tinkling.
At night I would wake up, but you quickly got used to it and went back to sleep. Many years later when living in Newark we had an earthquake in the middle of the night and it was a very similar sensation.

Double headed 37's on limestone trains. Marvellous!
 

MotCO

Member
Joined
25 Aug 2014
Messages
1,107
Would I buy a house right next to a very busy station on a very busy national main line? Only if it was very, very cheap. Bearing in mind the proximity of the River Lune and the associated risk of flooding and insurance issues that will surely follow I'd stay clear.
The other issue is, when the time comes to sell, would it be easy to sell? If you're having second doubts, other people would as well. It probably all comes down to price.
 

Lucan

Member
Joined
21 Feb 2018
Messages
637
I cannot advise about the OP's question as I am not familiar with that place. But where I live now is the first place I have lived where I cannot either see or hear trains. It keeps me awake at night ;) ! The sound of trains, in the distance at least, sends me to sleep.

Where I live now, miles from any railway or town and by a minor country road, is the noisiest place I have ever lived. It is on a favourite "scenic" motorbike route and there is everything from boy racers at insane speeds with no baffles in their silencers, to squadrons of Harley-Davidson type heavyweights throbbing past - as many as 20 at a time. 400 yards away a guy has an unofficial firewood business and is chain-sawing for hours on end, and at half a mile is a clay pigeon shoot. Although minor, the road is well used by juggernauts which crash through the over-hanging tree branches along here. There is also heavy tractor traffic which is fine because it is essentially related to the rural scene - the other stuff is not. And I would not mind the motorbikes if it were not for the fact that some of their noise is obviously delibetrate. There is one regular biker who goes along in a series of loud explosions, presumably because he has imcompetently messed with his tuning, or he just likes it that way. It is quiet at night though.

While looking for this place I viewed a house that backed onto the Hereford-Malvern railway which was in a deep cutting at that point and I think had about two trains per hour. I gathered from the stance of the estate agent that there was difficulty selling the place because of the railway, yet the house was up a lane 400 yards away from the public road and was probably about as quiet as you could find in lowland Britain these days. But I gather that most people would rather the house had been by the busy main road than a sleepy railway - strange values.
 
Last edited:

Gathursty

Established Member
Joined
31 May 2011
Messages
1,900
Location
Wigan
I live a mile from Springs Branch so can hear the WCML services and the Liverpool-Wigan electrics regularly but not enough to destroy my sleep. It's a sound you get used to. If I was 25m away, I'm not sure, I'd be able to say the same.
 

Undiscovered

Member
Joined
28 Jan 2013
Messages
122
If the wind is right, I can hear the local station announcements from 2miles away. It's surprising how far that 'bing bong' travels.

Even with triple blazing, new builds have 'trickle vents' in them, essentially a hole in the frame that allows air flow to prevent condensation and mould. This effectively negates the glazing. You can wodge them with cotton wool, but not really a solution.

Additionally, your lovely summer garden parties my well be punctuated with the sounds of a Pendolino, or, certainly around Easter and August, the might of a Tamper or Ballast Cleaner.
 
Joined
24 Sep 2017
Messages
58
My dad lives on a boat normally somewhere between Reading and Newbury, and often close to the railway between the same two places. The trains create very little disturbance, although I imagine being on a boat stops the vibrations. Engineering work however can be very noisy, especially banging in electrification masts with a huge hammer all night, although at Lancaster that would have been inflicted on the residents of 50 years ago.
 

driver9000

Established Member
Joined
13 Jan 2008
Messages
3,851
I know it's not the same information you're asking for, but have you thought about the risk of flooding there? I'm not familiar with that particular development, but as far as I can make out on the map, it's very close to the bank of the River Lune and also not far above sea level. Lancaster City Centre has had problems with floods a couple of times over the last decade or so, and as sea levels rise with climate change, that risk can only get worse - the River Lune is tidal at that spot. Personally I don't think there's any way I'd buy a house around there for that reason alone.

Also, from that location, it's virtually impossible to travel anywhere by road without first going through the very congested one way system around Lancaster City Centre. (Though at least you are within walking distance of the station so you can use the train).
The houses are being built on former industrial land and it rarely floods there despite being so close to the river. I don't think it was particularly affected during the major floods Storm Desmond brought when the city centre ended up under 6ft of water either. You're right that the location isn't ideal for accessibility and public transport is poor plus the nearest shops would be on the Marsh estate or in town.
 

driver9000

Established Member
Joined
13 Jan 2008
Messages
3,851
Over and above the train noise, what sort of bridge is it? If it is a hollow box section, heavy freights "could" set up a booming noise as they pass over, noisier than the actual train.

The obvious answer is to go trainspotting at your own proposed front door for a few hours (day and night) to assess the noise levels. You may even find a new hobby! :lol:
Carlisle Bridge (the bridge in question) doesn't suffer from the boom effect when trains pass over.
 

Top