Train Noise


Hi All, Has anyone else noticed that there’s been a huge increase in train noise and vibration in recent months for those of us living close to Forest Hill Station? From our observations, the cause seems to be more and more Thameslink trains passing through at high speed. A concerned neighbour tells us that the vibrations from these trains are so bad that even their bath water is shaking - something that has never happened before. We’re planning to contact Network Rail and also Ellie Reeves MP about it to see what can be done perhaps to dampen the effects. But first we thought we’d share here in case anyone has thoughts on the matter.


They are pretty noisy. But I feel like it is more noticable just because it’s way more frequent.

To be honest if you’re that concerned I’d just move because there’s nothing anyone can do about it. Secondly, there’s a risk in the future that national rail could run 24 hour services on some routes. Thameslink could be one of them. Probably won’t happen anytime soon but it’s one to think about.

This will sound brutal but don’t choose to live next to a train line (or the South Circular or near a bus stop).


I bought my flat 3 years ago obviously fully aware of the railway… for the majority of the time it’s been handleable. The stopping trains have never been an issue for me and the faster ones were relatively infrequent.
Since London Bridge got finished however it seems to have got worse and worse… every couple of minutes at times. The 12 car monsters are the worst… don’t know if they’re noisier when full or empty but I reeeelly notice them around 9-11.30 when for instance I’m watching a film on pretty loud speakers and I have to pause it for a bit because I can’t hear a thing.
As for what can be done… who knows, most likely nothing as Hollow says. Speed restrictions are probably out due to complicated timetables and quick journeys for those further out. Some kind of dampening, I don’t know if it even exists and I’d better stop there before I get into sci-fi territory.
And yes of course we knew what we were getting into. However it HAS got much much worse… so Birdinhand go ahead and contact someone and I’ll join in.
As for not living near the SC or a bus stop… I’ve done both and neither were close to as bad as this… although buses accelerating up Dartmouth road from the junction when I lived there was quite bad.
One last thing for fun… I didn’t notice on the aircraft noise thread anyone suggesting that perhaps they shouldn’t live in centralish London on top of a hill or that they should expect changes in future and don’t complain and either put up or move… so give us our chance to moan even though it will probably come to nothing. It’s therapeutic!


Thanks to all those who’ve replied so far. Good to see there’s an emerging consensus that train noise and vibration has worsened significantly. Clearly this is an issue that Network Rail ought to be made aware of.


Watershed, sadly there were quite a few on there who suggested that planes a couple of thousand feet overhead where none were before should be expected in a busy city. At least railway lines and roads give a bit more clue!

But yes, when usage is upped/changed without consideration for those nearby, it’s galling. You can lay bets that those pocketing the income from longer trains or more flights, aren’t directly affected. And I suspect even if local impact was considered, if it fell within a lowish %, it’s probably classed as acceptable - and then another few % points climb on in real life and for the next enhancement - and suddenly it’s twice as noisy.

Good luck!


Modern trains seem to me to be much smoother, more comfortable and quieter inside than the old ones. Therefore, I would expect external noise to be reduced.

Perhaps the track requires relaying, especially after the incident of the sink-hole.

I do occasionally enjoy a fast journey from East Croydon to London Bridge in just twenty minutes at high speed.

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I was standing in HOP station talking to a mate one morning last week when one of the southbound Thameslink trains came through fast and we paused our conversation because it was so loud. I don’t know whether they’re any noisier than the old trains, but agree with one of the posters above that the noise / traffic has probably been artificially reduced while services have been reduced through London Bridge. I wonder whether houses all along Devonshire Road are affected - when I lived there c. 2001/2002 we could always hear the heavy trains passing in the night but rarely during the day.

To the OP, good luck. As you say, even if nothing changes, it’s therapeutic to talk about it!


This is much more noticeable further south along Devonshire where the track is at the same level as the back gardens. Towards the Honor Oak end, there is a cutting and this muffles the sound a lot.


Some levels of Network Rail are aware, but it is difficult to communicate with anyone above ‘customer service’ levels.

There is apparently no statutory obligation on Network Rail to pay any attention to people they disturb, so it is a political matter - whether pressure can be applied. There are always technical solutions to noise and vibration but they cost money.

You can contact Thameslink as well as Network Rail: 0345 026 4700

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I don’t understand the expectation of a correlation that external noise would be reduced because things are quieter inside. The noise inside has been reduced by double glazing and other insulation but trains may be still be running (faster) on knackered tracks.

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Yes, between Honor Oak Park and Forest Hill, most of the track is in a cutting, so the trains are not seen or heard. As the line approaches Forest Hill, the track rises above the level of gardens in Devonshire. Also Stanstead Road is affected - the section of Stanstead Rd which is parallel with the track - where the line is at 1st or 2nd floor level of houses in Stanstead. The line is also much closer to housing along this stretch.


I can’t imagine that the Thameslink trains speeding through could not have increased noise and vibration. However Network Rail also took down a lot of line-side trees at the end of last year which won’t have helped if that’s near you:


Investing in windows with good sound insulation could help somewhat. Other than that I agree there is very little that can be done. I’m not a lawyer, but afaik there is no legislation in place that would require any specific measures even if traffic increases, especially not for railway lines that existed for more than a century. In fact, the trains are new, the tracks look quite new as well so it’s hard to see what else would improve the situation in the short term.

I believe Thameslink trains already run 24 hours to Gatwick. They have used other routes for several years while London Bridge was being rebuilt so them coming back would have made a noticeable difference.

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This has nothing to do with noise though. Trees and shrubs can be good for wildlife, micro-climate and absorbing dust but it’s a myth that they make any noticeable difference to noise. They are definitely very bad for running trains in autumn from what the leaflets tell us.


My point was that the engineering has reduced internal noise. Therefore, I would expect it also to address external noise. I agree that it is probably the track that has caused any increase in noise.
Personally, I believe that trees and hedges do reduce noise levels. But they cannot be retained because they drop leaves on the line, except for evergreen hedges. but they would need to be trimmed at least annually.


Most of the effect appears to be indeed about perception rather than physics. Researchers have explored this in some detail with a good selection available for bed time reading such as this one for instance.

Perception is an important factor of course, so if a hedge makes one think that it’s less noisy, then it’s probably still a good idea to plant one (alongside any other reasons).


Well that statement certainly flyies in the face of common sense, and the effects have been studied and measured with equipment to avoid bias from human perception e.g. this study. Granted you need a fair few trees to make a big difference, but I don’t agree with describing this as a myth.

Others have also complained about the the Network Rail tree felling increasing noise. From this article:

In a letter to transport minister Mr Johnson on July 6, Witley Parish Council said although residents were alerted in advance by notices fixed to a fence in August 2017, “the total devastation came as a complete shock”.

It wrote that as a result of the loss of trees, the noise from trains has increased “significantly”, and in June or July, the rail company installed an “ugly eight-foot high green metal fence” at the top of a bare slope.

Notably I don’t think there was a real solution presented in the above article and the then Transport Minister backed Network Rail. Therefore the advice of soundproofing around this problem seems prudent.

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Well, that’s the point. There is no doubt that if you planted a dense 20 metre thick jungle in your back garden you may get some kind of improvement.

They probably would have had to chop down large parts of Garthorne and Devonshire Road Nature Reserves for it to make a material difference on noise - which they gladly didn’t.

Maybe we can agree on the effect being much less than one might expect.


Ah - so it’s not a myth that trees have an effect on noise then.

Also if you look at the study I cited, Figure 6 shows you need much less than a 20m wide jungle to get decent attenuation. An area just 10m wide starts to give 10dBA of attenuation which is significant because it’s around a 10dBA increase that humans perceive sounds as roughly doubling in volume. A 3m wide area gives 6dBA or more attenuation, so still perceivable to the human ear. The visibility metric shows the effect on planting density.

Let’s just agree to disagree.

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It is for the particular context discussed in this thread, for the reasons I’ve mentioned.

I would consider this a rather selective interpretation of the diagram. Besides, by inspection this particular study has been done for point sources, not exactly representative for trains running along a railway track.

The more relevant point is though that even if clearing vegetation along railway lines had an impact on noise, that alone wouldn’t be a reason not to regularly do it.