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  • Noise and vibration from the railway

    Find out what causes noise on the railway and how to contact us if you're affected

  • This page is about noise and vibration from the regular running of the railway.

    For information about disturbance caused by repairs and improvement work, please see our page on maintenance and engineering work.


    We regularly review the state of the tracks and carry out maintenance work to improve them where necessary, so it is unlikely that the condition of the tracks would cause any damage to nearby buildings.

    However if you think the vibrations from trains running near your property is causing structural damage, you’ll need to get a report from an independent surveyor.

    If the report agrees that train vibrations are causing damage then we’ll launch an investigation. We can only do this on receipt of an independent report so please talk to a surveyor before contacting us.


    Noise levels vary depending on the circumstances; Open countryside allows noise to travel further than hills, frost makes the ground hard so it can't absorb noise, and fog prevents noise dissipating into the sky.

    If you contact us about noise, we’ll let you know what’s causing it and how long it is likely to last. When appropriate, we’ll also take action to reduce it.


    Excessive noise may be caused by a problem with a train or by a problem with the the track.

    We own and manage the rail network (we don't run trains), so while we can give you advice and can investigate train movements, we usually have to work with the train company and local authority and we won’t be able to take action to rectify the problem.

    A 2012 study found that our improvements to track maintenance have achieved a significant reduction in noise associated with the railway. Find out more about how we're reducing track noise.

    Level crossings

    Most of the noise from a level crossing is caused by vehicles crossing it. Occasionally we can reduce noise by making the level smoother but rarely can we eliminate it altogether.

    Track alarms

    These alarms are vital to passenger safety but should only sound for a short time. If you are concerned about any alarms sounding from the railway, please get in touch with us.

    Train horns

    These provide safety warnings to people who are on or near the tracks and are a vital safety feature of trains on the network.

    Following a review by the Rail Safety & Standards Board (RSSB) train horns are now quieter and used less often, however if you’re affected by train horns, please get in touch with us.

    Read frequently asked questions on Night Time Quiet Period adjustments.

    Whistle boards

    These are used at footpath crossings where it is not possible for pedestrians to see approaching trains. When the train passes a board, the driver must sound the horn so that pedestrians know a train is coming. Apart from emergencies, drivers cannot use horns at whistleboards between midnight and 6am.

    We're trying to reduce the number of whistle boards but we can’t remove them where there’s no other option as they’re essential to pedestrians’ safety.

  • Contact us

    If you have a concern or question, call our 24-hour helpline:

    03457 11 41 41

    or contact us online