How far away can you hear a train (in good conditions)?

nickw1

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Was wondering how far away you can hear a train, in good conditions (i.e. the train is upwind of you, rural location so not much traffic).

Obviously answer will vary dependent on type of train, so might be good to consider some options:
- Classic diesel loco such as 37 or Deltic (which I would imagine would carry a long way)
- The acceleration of a Paxman engine in an HST
- A modern EMU such as a 444 or 450
- A ttypical train horn. This last is of particular interest as I swear I heard a horn from the Elsted area, West Sussex, perhaps 7 miles from the Portsmouth Direct on one occasion in October 2004. (At this time the Portsmouth Direct had a mixture of Desiros and slam-door stock, but I think it was the former). Wind was westerly so the line would have been upwind.

Aside from the horn above, I do recall hearing down trains from a bridge about 2 miles east of Brockenhurst in the New Forest, about 3 mins before they passed in ideal conditions (NE winds), so perhaps about 4 miles away, maybe in the Ashurst area. On the other hand at one time, in the 80s, I lived around 3 miles from the the Portsmouth Direct and don't really recall hearing trains then, though there was some high ground in the way.
 
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eastwestdivide

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A few years back, I heard the two steam locos on a “Tin Bath“ excursion when I was at Denby Dale and the train was at Silkstone Common. About 5 miles as the crow files.
 

The Lad

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Many, many years ago near Oxted in the wee small hours I heard a Thumper which I presumed was on the Brighton main line, certainly the branch had closed for the night. That would be 6 miles or so.
Also 66's over Copy Pit, a shorter distance about 3 miles but a big (1400') hill in the way.
 

Paul Jones 88

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I can remember living in a tower block in Edmonton facing west and on a clear summer night, I could hear the unmistakable sound of a distant Deltic traversing the ECML.
 

Bletchleyite

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I'm about 1.7km ish away from the WCML at its nearest point to my house, and can hear track noise from moving trains at night (sufficiently well that I could tell a Pendolino from a 350). Less so during the day as background road noise drowns it out.
 

Bertie the bus

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I live about 2 miles away from the WCML in a suburb - so plenty of trees and buildings between me and the railway. If a 37 or 68 passes I can usually hear it irrespective of the conditions. There is a bridge just before the station with some jointed track and when the conditions are just right I can even hear the clickety-clack of units passing over it.
 

Bletchleyite

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I live about 2 miles away from the WCML in a suburb - so plenty of trees and buildings between me and the railway. If a 37 or 68 passes I can usually hear it irrespective of the conditions. There is a bridge just before the station with some jointed track and when the conditions are just right I can even hear the clickety-clack of units passing over it.

I can hear "clickety clack" when units go in and out of the sidings, too.
 

Surreytraveller

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Many, many years ago near Oxted in the wee small hours I heard a Thumper which I presumed was on the Brighton main line, certainly the branch had closed for the night. That would be 6 miles or so.
Also 66's over Copy Pit, a shorter distance about 3 miles but a big (1400') hill in the way.
Sure it wasn't a set of empties going to or from Uckfield?
The first one down in the morning was 04.43 from Selhurst Depot, unless it was a deicing or sandite
Just because there's no passenger trains scheduled, the branch is still open!
 
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In still conditions at night the whistles from the whistle board at Burley-in-Wharfedale can be heard roughly 2.5 miles away from where I live.

I can also remember how I could here both the sound of the traction motors from a Class 321, as well as the run sound from every train travelling along the GEML at Harold Wood, roughly 2/3 mile away from a relatives house at night with the window open, and that’s with the A12 in between.
 

Pit_buzzer

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Spent the whole of the 1970s living about 2 miles from the ecml, in the middle of the night in the summer I could here the deltics with there distinctive change of engine note when the field diverts kicked in. Don't recall hearing anything else from that period

Later moved to about a mile from the ecml and the most distinctive noise was the class 56s on mgr trains.
 

30907

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On holiday near Talybont last month, I reckon I was occasionally hearing southbound trains somewhere around Pensarn which is 3.5m to the North.
It was a quiet spot and the whole area is pretty flat, both of which help.

Similarly, I could hear trains around Rishton, 2m as the crow flies from my home in Great Harwood (on a south-facing slope, which helped) - the M65 was much more intrusive, I found!
 

Harvester

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I can remember one cold still clear night on Grantham station in December 1981, a few weeks before Deltic workings ceased. Had just travel up from Peterborough behind 55016, and after disembarking watched it depart towards Newark. I could hear it for three or four minutes as it accelerated north, and I am fairly sure it was running on one engine at that time.
 

johnnychips

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On a still night I could hear station announcements at Doncaster station at my home in Balby 1.5 miles away
 

cnjb8

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Might have been mentioned but pretty much anywhere in the Derwent Valley from Belper to Matlock, you can hear the click-clack as a 156 travels over the Derwent Valley Line. A very nice sound, in fact in perfect conditions you can hear it from Crich which is just out of the valley.
 

Pit_buzzer

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On a still night I could hear station announcements at Doncaster station at my home in Balby 1.5 miles away
I can here them in Bentley as well
Which reminds me, on the last day of LNER hsts I went to Bentley to see the last one, it was a really still night and I could here the horns blasting as it left donny

Sat in my garden in Bentley right now and I thought I could here a 91, checked realtime trains and 91 111 has just arrived in platform 8 at donny
 
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Gathursty

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I'm about 2 miles from both the WCML and the Wigan Huyton line so can hear lots of electrics whistle by and occasionally some freights. I ought to have a late night walk into the woods to wait for the Sleeper but I always forget.
 

plugwash

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I don't know the distances involved, but I've noticed when waiting at a quiet local station you often hear the rails start to "sing" before you hear the train itself.
 

riceuten

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I live 1.8 miles away from Stevenage Station, and at night, past midnight when the roads are quiet, I can hear the LNER trains that non-stop the station (i.e. the track "clatter"). This is partially due to the acoustics - I live above the station which lies on lower ground in the centre.
 

Diplodicus

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Meanwhile... in the dim and distant past I was a young "lengthsman" on the LUL Northern Line section from Golders Green to Edgware (day gang 26). I vividly remember standing on Brent viaduct with my back to the running direction when a train appeared over my shoulder . I heard nothing until it wa alongside me about three feet away!

The "anomalous propogation of sound". It makes audible warnings very unreliable.
 

jopsuk

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I'm about 1k from the nearest bit of track, and in town- when the weather's right I can hear the assorted EMUs
 

Taunton

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From the sea front at West Kirby, Wirral, you can faintly hear (and see their lights at night) trains on the North Wales coast line, across the Dee estuary, around Talacre, and sometimes hear a horn. Four to five miles across the sea. Takes more than an hour to drive there, and even longer to get there by train.
 
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stuu

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When I was a child we lived in Milverton, Somerset. At night it was easy to hear whistles and if conditions were right the trains too. A good 3 miles from the railway
 

4COR

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Sound propagation, especially at night, can be remarkably different to the day - the presence of a temperature inversion layer can result in sound waves being refracted back towards the earth. This can result in sounds being audible for very large distances. Valleys can also help "channel" the sounds as well as allowing for the "valley inversion" effect where cool air flows to the bottom of the valley.

I used to live in Whyteleafe (just up one of the valley sides). On just the right warm summer nights, I could hear up Oxted trains, esp Thumpers, go through U Warlingham, and both enter and leave Riddlesdown tunnel London side - that's about 1.8 miles as the crow flies to the portal, so probably getting on for 2 before being out of earshot.
 

seagull

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Seems that 4-5 miles for hearing the train's horn is not unusual in the right conditions particularly at night on the rare occasions one is sounded then.
Furthest distance for a train sound otherwise that I can recall was around 3 miles from the ECML near Retford, in the days of Class 56 haulage on coal trains, very distinctive engine rumble.

The haunting sounds of the US/Canadian chime horns in the distance especially at night are a very unforgettable experience.

Youtube video - Train and 5-chime horn at night recording starts in distance (2-3 miles away).
 

cornishjohn

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At Liskeard, waiting for the last down train of the night to meet a passenger, I could hear an up freight from the Bodmin direction for at least 10 minutes. It was a very still night.

At first I thought it was a lorry on the bypass, but it didn't move enough, and the "note" never changed once.
 

Philip

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I can remember about 20 years ago being on the canal one early morning adjacent to Beeston Castle, half way along the Crewe to Chester line. I can't remember the type of train but I remember it passing heading towards Chester and could hear the distant and intermittent roar of track noise across the flat plain for about 3-4 minutes afterwards, so with a 90mph linespeed it must have still been audible up to 5 or so miles away.

It was such a peaceful noise, the smooth faint roar of wheels on rails coming and going (depending on the landscape and state of the rail head) and gradually getting quieter, with the only other noise coming from singing birds and the quiet roar of the water at the nearby lock.
 
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The exile

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From where I am on the top of the hill to the south of Bath, steam specials are clearly audible as they approach from the Bristol direction, then pull away from the station. They then “disappear” only to become audible again as they proceed up the Avon valley.
 

Beebman

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I live close to the GWML to the west of Twyford but on a still warm night I can hear trains on the Reading - Wokingham line which is about 2.5 miles away.
 

Master29

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I can remember hearing a 37 from High Beech in Epping Forest. It would have been around the Angel to Ponders End stretch a good 2 to 3 miles away.
 

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