Buying house backing onto train tracks...

Bald Rick

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There’s only one way to find out for sure - go down there and hang aroun for an hour, and make sure the wind is blowing from the railway to the house.
 
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ainsworth74

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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!
You might want to take a look at this link to a website called RailTimeTrains. It shows all the booked trains through Lancester station between 0200 and 0159 for a random mid-week day in September (to try and avoid Covid-19 related service reductions). Now not all of the freight services will necessarily run (the ones that are shaded) but I'd expect a great many of them will so as you can see there is going to be a lot of traffic during both the day and overnight. I would suggest your best bet is going to, sadly, involve going down there and see for yourself what it's like. Looking at next week I'd suggest perhaps 0100 to just after 0200 might not be a bad idea as there's several freight services intended to run. Though obviously I have no idea how practical that would be but I think it's probably the wisest course of action for something as significant as buying a house.
 

Metal_gee_man

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The Google satellite view says everything, it isn't just a set of 2 lines running past it has a sets of points at one end of the site which will create various squealing noises when different services change tracks just before they cross the bridge, and then as you get to Lancaster Station at the opposite end of the site 2 track become multi track with multiple points.

I don't live there I don't have the sleep problems but I wouldn't touch it with a barge poleScreenshot_20200630_134509_com.google.android.apps.maps.jpgScreenshot_20200630_134459_com.google.android.apps.maps.jpg
 

nickswift99

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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.
I used to live in Hungerford about 30m from the B&H. I didn't hear most trains when the windows were closed but you could feel the vibration in the ground when the stone trains went through.

As other posters have commented, Network Rail are good at providing advanced notification of works. However, this won't help much other than explain why you can't sleep.
 

DarloRich

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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

You must make those enquiries, via your solicitor, that you as buyer feel appropriate. No one here can tell you what they are. No one knows how much noise you will consider too much noise. You should visit the property at as many different times as you can to asses the noise. That will be easier if you are buying from the occupier rather than the developer who will tell you just about anything to make a sale!

Also I think you should be able to walk around the development area as the last time I passed I noticed some houses seemed to be built and occupied. There is absolutely nothing wrong with knocking round on neighbouring home occupiers and asking them straight out what the noise is like. I have done that on more than one occasion. The worst they can do is tell you to do one!

A further aside: assuming you are a first time buyer under no circumstances accept anything the estate agent or sales agent says. Check everything yourself with your solicitor. Also, find your own solicitor based on local recommendation. Don't use one offered to you. I know all that sounds very formal but this is a massive investment and you need to be happy.

Turning to the trains: If I remember correctly these houses are below the level of the line which runs on a large stone viaduct which might mitigate some of the noise. it looks a nice spot. Lancaster is on an electrified line. Most passenger trains stop at Lancaster but for those that don't I couldn't tell you how fast they will move through the station. I suspect ( but don't know) your noise will be from diesel trains powering away from the station. That should be fleeting imo but could be loud. Most of the freight trains will run at night and will be a mixture of electric and diesel. They will be slower, longer and heavier than the passenger trains

As an owner of a neighboring property NR should tell you of any major planned engineering work but that might depend on the closeness to the line. These can and will be noisy but should not happen often. Sadly most of that kind of work takes place at stupid o'clock in the morning. You could ask your solicitor to ask NR if any such work is planned. The big unknowable is emergency repair work or normal track maintenance. That cant be controlled.

Finally it is worth noting that service levels are lower than in normal times so your picture might not be accurate. Bottom line; Go round as often as you can. Use the RTT link above to identify times you think look busy. Have a listen, ask around.
 
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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
I lived in north Manchester and my back garden backed onto the railway line. You could hear the trains thundering up miles platting bank[especially freight],But you get used to them-At least I did. I am a light sleeper also and we didnt have double glazing.
 

SEA222

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Wow, thank you so much everybody for your input and information! All of it is extremely helpful. We live in Canada (my wife is Canadian) currently so we haven’t been able to go see the train noise for ourselves, but between watching some YouTube videos and the information you all have given we have a much better idea now. A lot to think about so again, thanks so much for your replies they are so amazing and helpful!
 

broadgage

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I used to live very close to a busy rail line in London. I soon to became used to the trains, mainly electric passenger trains but quite a few heavy freights overnight, these made a lot of noise when climbing an incline after being slowed at an approach controlled signal.

I kept the window open to permit the cats in and out. It was only about 15 meters from bedroom window to train.

In your case I would be much more worried about flooding risk than the trains. I agree with those who state not to believe anything said by builders, developers or estate agents.
Select your own solicitors and check that they have no connection any of the above.

In case you or wife are more sensitive than me, budget for installing air conditioning at least for the living room and the bedroom. Whilst this can be fitted at any time, it is less disruptive if the work is done just after purchase and before filling the house with furniture, children, pets and the like.
 

alxndr

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The Google satellite view says everything, it isn't just a set of 2 lines running past it has a sets of points at one end of the site which will create various squealing noises when different services change tracks just before they cross the bridge, and then as you get to Lancaster Station at the opposite end of the site 2 track become multi track with multiple points.
It shouldn't be a squeal but it's likely that there will be some thudding (similar to the du-dum du-dum du-dum sound of a train on traditional jointed track). How bad it will be will depend on the condition of the track.

Points also mean there will be people visiting at least 4 times a year for routine maintenance. You won't get notified of this. It's unlikely to be too loud, just 3 people or so with hand tools, but it's a possibility that you'll hear it if you are yhwt close and sensitive.

As an owner of a neighboring property NR should tell you of any major planned engineering work but that might depend on the closeness to the line. These can and will be noisy but should not happen often. Sadly most of that kind of work takes place at stupid o'clock in the morning. You could ask your solicitor to ask NR if any such work is planned. The big unknowable is emergency repair work or normal track maintenance. That cant be controlled.
You might be able to find out about work for the next couple of years, but unlikely too far in advance. I think most people will hope to stay in a house longer than you'd be able to get an answer for.

In my experience of living by the railway, the letters aren't very good. I think I got 3 letters in 3 years, all for the same job that kept getting postponed. Also had one visit (which ironically was the one time I was woken up as I'd been on nights!) The noise didn't really bother me at all, despite being next to a yard, multiple points, and some joints. I could certainly hear it, and a couple of freights rattled the building, but it bothered me more when the line was under possession and there were no trains. I can see how some people would have hated it though, and I might be particularly tolerant as I work trackside so I'm used to hearing trains from a few meters away.
 

Parham Wood

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All new build houses are well insulated. On the new build estate near me nearly every window is open at the moment due to the heat. Your house is likely to be very hot and you will want the windows open which will expose you to the rail noise day and night. You will also have problems with insurance at some time if you are on a flood plain (reselling may also be difficult) and if it floods insurance renewal could be a problem. A lot of the UK is on flood plains and since sea levels are rising and we are getting heavier rain storms causing more flooding it is becoming more of an issue and of course insurance companies cannot afford to carry the risks. New build houses are also normally very small if on a general estate rather than an executive home one. The rooms are very small, they take the internal doors off show houses to make them look very small and there are no built in cupboards. Studying the room plans carefully and work out carefully where you will put your furniture and cupboards/ shelving, TV etc. UK homes are much smaller I believe than Canada ones. I would not buy this house if my wife was a bad sleeper and even more so because it is on a flood plain. Also check the builder as some major UK builders have quality issues, i.e. the homes are built cheaply.
 

jopsuk

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Honestly all this chat and really it should be simple- should you buy a house next to a railway if you're a problem sleeper? Absolutely not. Doesn't matter the age of the house, the vertical position, the construction of the house and of the railway- if it's a live railway, you'll get trains, almost certainly at all hours (barring some minor lines) and they will make noise.
 

trebor79

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All new build houses are well insulated. On the new build estate near me nearly every window is open at the moment due to the heat. Your house is likely to be very hot and you will want the windows open which will expose you to the rail noise day and night. You will also have problems with insurance at some time if you are on a flood plain (reselling may also be difficult) and if it floods insurance renewal could be a problem. A lot of the UK is on flood plains and since sea levels are rising and we are getting heavier rain storms causing more flooding it is becoming more of an issue and of course insurance companies cannot afford to carry the risks. New build houses are also normally very small if on a general estate rather than an executive home one. The rooms are very small, they take the internal doors off show houses to make them look very small and there are no built in cupboards. Studying the room plans carefully and work out carefully where you will put your furniture and cupboards/ shelving, TV etc. UK homes are much smaller I believe than Canada ones. I would not buy this house if my wife was a bad sleeper and even more so because it is on a flood plain. Also check the builder as some major UK builders have quality issues, i.e. the homes are built cheaply.
New houses also come with ridiculously tiny "gardens". Even the very large very expensive houses have postage stamp sized outdoor spaces. I find all modern estates utterly depressing for this reason and could not live on one.
 

trebor79

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Honestly all this chat and really it should be simple- should you buy a house next to a railway if you're a problem sleeper? Absolutely not. Doesn't matter the age of the house, the vertical position, the construction of the house and of the railway- if it's a live railway, you'll get trains, almost certainly at all hours (barring some minor lines) and they will make noise.
Nail. Head.
 

afclondon

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As someone who lives a few meters from the WCML I'd say dont do it. You get used to the trains but the overnight engineering work is grating.
 

CrispyUK

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The back of my house is about 25m from the railway line between Rugby and Coventry. I barely notice Desiros and Pendolinos passing now, the Voyagers are a bit more noisy. Freight traffic can be more intrusive sometimes and cause more noticeable vibrations.

I’m usually quite a deep sleeper but sometimes get disturbed by engineering work at night, equipment making all sorts of odd noises. I remember a night of vegetation clearance being especially loud!

There’s a signal slightly along from my house, so trains tend to stop directly behind me if held at it, which is usually a noisy yellow engineering train at night which will be sat there for quite a while with engines running.
 

alangla

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If you’re having these sorts of doubts then this house probably isn’t for you. If you like the design of house there will probably be another site nearby that has the same ones but without the environmental problems. The flood risk alone would probably have me running a mile.
 

unslet

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Aside from the railway and flood plain issues,are you aware of the Facebook group called Do Not Buy a Persimmon Home?

I know a person who has bought one and has had plenty of build quality problems.
 

Brissle Girl

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Aside from the railway and flood plain issues,are you aware of the Facebook group called Do Not Buy a Persimmon Home?

I know a person who has bought one and has had plenty of build quality problems.
As featured on the BBC no less.

If I were moving here from abroad I would rent for 6 months to get a feel for the area, local house prices etc before committing to a purchase. That’s the best advice I can give.
 

harz99

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Wow, thank you so much everybody for your input and information! All of it is extremely helpful. We live in Canada (my wife is Canadian) currently so we haven’t been able to go see the train noise for ourselves, but between watching some YouTube videos and the information you all have given we have a much better idea now. A lot to think about so again, thanks so much for your replies they are so amazing and helpful!
As said in the above 2 posts, Persimmon have a poor reputation, and having literally watched how they build from my back door for the last two years I can see why.

I don't know if you need to be in Lancaster itself, but Story Homes who are a regional developer covering Northern England and Southern Scotland, have a good reputation, as ever do plenty of research before committing yourself. Good luck.
 

trebor79

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Yes there's no way I'd buy a house I haven't viewed in person.
Plus in 6 months, houses may be a lot cheaper than today...
 

al78

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Based on the responses in this thread, I would say avoid it like the plague. I'd say the flood risk is far more concerning than overnight trains.

This was February this year:

We've been lucky with a very dry Spring, but flooding rains will happen again.
 

DynamicSpirit

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As featured on the BBC no less.

If I were moving here from abroad I would rent for 6 months to get a feel for the area, local house prices etc before committing to a purchase. That’s the best advice I can give.
That's actually a good point about renting.

Lancaster has a very large and thriving student private rental housing sector, but with the Covid situation, I would expect some dip in student numbers this coming academic year, which is likely to mean a fair few landlords struggling to let. So I my guess is that it won't be at all hard to find somewhere reasonable to rent.
 

Rockhopper

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Surprisingly the housing market is very strong at the moment and getting stronger. Houses round me are selling within a few days of being advertised and the new developments are mostly being sold off plan.
New developments in flood risk areas "should" have mitigation measures in place as the Environment Agency are consulted as part of the planning process and they would recommend refusal if flooding is likely.
 

trebor79

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That's actually a good point about renting.

Lancaster has a very large and thriving student private rental housing sector, but with the Covid situation, I would expect some dip in student numbers this coming academic year, which is likely to mean a fair few landlords struggling to let. So I my guess is that it won't be at all hard to find somewhere reasonable to rent.
Hope student digs have improved since my day :lol:
 

mpthomson

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It's worth pointing out that this development doesn't really back on to the WCML, it's about 30ft lower on the site of the old mills and close to the masonry arches of Carlisle Bridge. It still won't be a quiet house but not as noisy as actually backing onto the line. Worth pointing out that my experience of growing up in that area is that it's quite a noisy bridge.
 

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