Train Noise Reduction: How to Go About Achieving This?

So there I was, excited to finally find an ideal living space to call my own in the City of Brotherly Love — Philadelphia!

After being assigned to oversee an art restoration project at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, I was looking forward to having cheesesteaks each and every day and catching Sixers games whenever I possibly could. I was living the dream — and then I quickly realized my folly.

The City of Brotherly Love apparently doesn’t extend its largess to your ears as I soon learned that the city features all of the worst noise pollution problems possible. It has an airport and numerous major sports stadiums that add to the constant background thrumming.

These sports stadiums, which house the aforementioned Sixers as well as the Phillies and the Flyers, add to noise pollution, because of their sound systems and traffic noise. Many road construction projects also happened to be an issue.

But all these paled in comparison to the train noise. I lived next to a nearby railroad track and at first, I thought nothing of it, believing that I would eventually get used to it. Besides, I had a crazy-nice bachelor’s pad and work benefits that most would kill for so complaining to my boss about the train noise never crossed my mind.

But the roar and whistle of the trains that were passing through just became intolerable. And with no chance of these noisy vessels disappearing any time soon, I was left with two choices: pack up move to an area free of locomotives and give up the job of a lifetime or will myself to find what works for train noise reduction that is quick and economical. Fortunately, I came upon a number of options for those that wish to reduce train noise and that is what I will be sharing to all you readers of this handy guide. Read on!

If you want to learn how to diminish the effects of train noise, click here!

Table of Contents

Don’t want to read through our whole guide? You can use our table of contents to jump to the part most relevant to you!

  1. Why All the Noise?
  2. How to Diminish Train Noise
  3. The Bottom Line

Why All the Noise?

Yes, the noise that all those trains make is insufferable but you have to remember that they are not there to wake you up in the middle of the night. Rather, those howling whistles play a crucial role in keeping motorists and pedestrians out of harm’s way.

As a matter of fact, it is mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) that all trains must blow their horns between 15 and 20 seconds before entering a highway-rail grade crossing. When moving at speeds faster than 60 miles per hour, it is mandated that trains blow their whistles at least a quarter mile away from the crossing. While the trains don’t blow their horns for too long, it may seem like forever for residents unlucky enough to hear the blaring horns.

Depending on the train noise reduction solution you pick for your living space, it should take into account that the average train whistle has been recorded to be anywhere between 90 and 110 decibels, which is substantially louder than your usual city noise.

The Sound of Moving Trains, Trams and Urban Light Rail Systems

Noise pollution is an existing problem that needs to be addressed at the soonest possible time. Why? It can cause anxiety and insomnia, raise stress levels and affect everything from cardiovascular well-being to ear health. Once you are exposed to 85 decibels (dB) or more, even for just a short period of time, you are susceptible to hearing loss.

Data from the World Health Organization says sustained exposure to 80 dB or above can possibly lead to a variety of conditions and problems like hormonal imbalances, pain, fatigue and poor performance at school and work.

  • The sound of a train speeding by at 100 kph is 85 dB.
  • The sound of a train 15 meters away is 80 dB.
  • The sound of the subway is typically 90 dB.

Train noise, outside of the sound of the actual horn, is a result of many different elements. The sound of the engines, brakes and the movement of the wheels all pitch in to train noise pollution. As such large machines, moving trains also have a vibratory impact, making the experience of living anywhere where public transport and suburban rail systems are nearby, even more troubling.

How much train noise you experience will really depend on numerous factors, in particular, the specific decibel level of the rail system you live near, how far away you are from the trains and whether there are any structures in place to help reduce the sound such as walls or screens for noise transfer.

The Sound of Train Horn Noise

For many who live nearby rail systems, the pressing question is how to lessen train horn noise. Train horn sounds can differ in pitch from high to low tones, depending on whether the train is passing another train, passing through a station or at a level crossing. As mentioned above, they are used to caution any pedestrians of danger but more often than not, you’ll hear train horns being used to acknowledge signals.

Train horns are one of modern society’s necessary evils as they do play a crucial part in ensuring safety and the efficiency of a rail system. Unfortunately, in order to be effective, they tend to be overpoweringly loud, making blocking train noise a formidable challenge.

Even for those who are living in suburban and rural areas, the piercing sound of horns can be a concern for rail systems that transport people in and around urban areas. These screeching sounds can be even more staggering for those who live outside of the city and who aren’t used to the constant drum of street sounds and standard urban noise pollution.

Having said all that, let’s now take a look at how you can possibly diminish train noise.

How to Diminish Train Noise?

Train Noise

The following can prove to be very helpful if you are hassled and fed up with the continuous and disturbing train horns, whistles and the rumbling it generates. Depending on the frequency of the noise, you could to mix and match a number of methods, which is actually suggested by sound experts, so as to attain a more serene living space for you and your family.

Even though the train noise could be just annoying at first, these repeated disturbances and state of distress that you experience living next to a railroad track could possibly have harmful implications for your health and long-term well-being.

Especially if you live in a heavily trafficked area of a city, it is greatly recommended to look and explore the options for reduction of the train noise that can disrupt your happiness and tranquility at the home.

While regular noise from passing trains may start out as just mere irritation, these consistent interruptions and disruptions can have dire implications on your health and well being in your home especially for those on highly-trafficked rail lines.

Sleepless nights, fussy kids, and unfinished work can all come to a hilt when train noise reduction precautions are overlooked and not implemented, stopping you from enjoying the oasis that should be your home. Take the next steps towards peace and quiet by investing in simple solutions such as adding door and window seals, indoor and outdoor plants, or surrounding your home with a fence.

Door Stopper

1) Fill in the Gaps

Filling gaps under doors and windows can really help you keep heat and block drafts in the winter. But did you also know that filling these open spaces is also an effective way to lessen train noise at home? Door sweeps and seals are hassle-free to set up and inexpensive to boot, making them the ideal short-term train noise reduction solution for houses and apartments.

Soundproof Curtains

2) Purchase High-Quality Carpets and Drapes

Most of the time, you’re going to be spending time poring over every carpet and drape at the store to evaluate with one would fit nicely with the aesthetic qualities of your home. But have you considered their ability to mitigate train noise at home?

It is a fact that the right carpet and drapes can go a long way in reducing train noise inside your abode. While a nice carpet can absorb noise from below, heavy drapes and curtains like this one have the ability to reduce echoes. It is suggested that drapes be placed on opposite sides of the room to trap more noise.

They have the capacity to generate a considerable amount of transmission loss at high frequency. As an example, there are specially designed curtains that can block around 20dB, depending not only on fabric and lining but also on each manufacturer. Apart from the beautiful design and ability to diminish the volume of the noise, some soundproof curtains may help you regulate even the temperature in the room.

They are easy to be installed on both rods and tracks. Therefore, they present one of the easiest solutions for train noise reduction, but also they remain both practical and effective method to muffle the unwanted sound. If you are looking for a cheap solution, the soundproof curtains might be the best option.

You’ve already laid your carpet and hung the drapes, but is there anything else that you can do to amplify your home’s noise-canceling abilities? Fill your house or apartment with plants, soft furniture, and fabric wall applications to absorb even more of the disturbance a passing train emits.

3) Fill the Yard with Fences and Trees

Another simple but expensive solution that you can try to reduce train noise at home is to surround your house with a fence. While you may be doubtful that this barrier could, in fact, keep away loud sounds from entering, outdoor fences are effective for lessening sound waves before they reach the walls of your house.

Another trick to lessen that annoying noise is to put up a few sound reflecting objects in the yard that may help in deflecting the sound. By setting up a few outdoor barriers, you are actually raising your chances for the better reduction of the noise inside the house. In addition, air currents can transport sound waves, so you might stifle the noise by breaking up the air using a barrier, whether it is a hedge or a fence.

For instance, by planting a row of hedge in front of or behind your house, depending on where the train track is situated, you would be able to diminish the sound waves. The crucial thing to know is that the hedge has proved well in being a barrier between the train track and the house making it hard for the sound to seep into the house.

For those that don’t want to dig that deep into their pockets, perhaps you should consider this more eco-friendly solution: plant trees or shrubs along the side of your yard closest to the train tracks. Much like the fence, these natural barriers will absorb much of the sound waves from the train before they can seep into your home.

4) Put Up Soundproof Windows

If the plan involves staying in your living space for the foreseeable future, it would make more sense to invest in some long-term answers to your train noise woes. A lot of homeowners have turned to putting up soundproof windows to help mitigate this noise problem.

Soundproof windows are an effective solution for tackling train noise issues as they are long lasting, highly effective, and super easy to install. Soundproof windows are so effective for train noise reduction because of their unique design that effectively buffers sounds that would otherwise permeate your walls and seep into your home.

A high decibel of a sound can seep through a glass window, so it is highly recommended that you prevent it if you live nearby a railroad track. Soundproof windows can reduce the train noise which would otherwise travel through the windows and permeate your home. Also, you could even try setting up soundproof doors to make doubly sure the better reduction of the noise inside the house.

If you are planning to stay in the house for the longest time possible, the noise you experience is indeed intolerable, one of the best things that you can do is to invest in the installation of double glazed windows. What is significant is that you can practically install them everywhere – standard houses, modern houses, townhouses, or even buildings.

Single glazed windows cannot keep the sound from making its way into your house, whereas double glazed windows do have the ability to do just that.

Double glazing is believed to be one of the best and easiest ways to effectively soundproof the windows and eliminate the train noise for good. It is easy to set up double glazed windows since you could do it by yourself if you are handy enough, but it is safer and better to hire professionals.

Technically, this method involves an add-on glazing system installed inside the windows. Namely, the soundproof windows are modified with double glazed units, which can muffle the noise from the outside.

Significantly, the standard double glazing may be enough if you do not suffer from extreme noise. However, there is a special type of glass, for instance, the laminated glass used to block specifically the train noise. It can reduce the noise for 30 or 40 dB, which can make a considerable difference for your peace at the house.


5. Make Use of Earplugs

If you do not suffer from a high frequency of the train noise inside the house, earplugs like these are more up your alley.

At times, people have a difficult time falling asleep because of what the train horns and rumbles could do to your sleep. If you are one indeed of those people, sleeping with earplugs can make a difference and reduce up to 20 dB of the noise while allowing you to sleep tight.

The Bottom Line

The bothersome train noise or any other city or traffic disorders should be prevented, so do not give it a second thought to invest in your and your family’s well-being and state of serenity.

Whether you want to apply some short-term solution or a permanent one, be sure that the train noise problem could be diminished or even eliminated.

All things considered, if you are unsure which approach to use to reduce the annoying and disquieting train noise, you could try some easy ones first to see if they have any impact on the noise in your house.

If they do not, then the next best thing to do is to invest in some long-term solution like installing double glazed windows.

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