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Can You Hear The Train Coming Before It Mows You Down In This Rail Safety Campaign?

See rappers test their ability to hear trains hurtling toward them—or try it yourself—in this British rail safety campaign.

A challenge to correctly identify the direction of an oncoming train and react in time is the latest installment in M&C Saatchi’s rail track safety campaign for Network Rail. The aim? To dissuade people from walking on railway lines by demonstrating the difficulty of recognizing the direction of moving sounds.

In the viral film Track Lines, rapper Wretch 32 and word performer George the Poet undertake a series of tests which use a 3-D binaural soundscape to recreate the noise of a train’s rapid approach highlighting the difficulty of identifying the direction and speed of approaching trains.

Viewers are then directed to try themselves by playing an online game (try it here) in which they hear the binaural sound of a train approaching and must select the direction from which it is coming to stay alive.

"The brief was to get people to realize that trains are much, much quieter than they think," M&C Saatchi art director and copywriter Luke Boggins explains.

"People assume that trains are loud, but that assumption is based on the fact that when a train’s gone past them in a station it’s noisy. That’s because the noise a train makes is mainly projected to either side. When trains are moving directly towards you they are barely audible—until it’s too late."

He adds: "It’s surprisingly easy to overload the brain to the point where it can’t triangulate where sound is coming from."

The new video and test follows an earlier campaign last year in which Welsh Olympic hurdler Dai Greene tested his speed and agility to move out of the way of an oncoming train in time. The viral has so far had more than 1.25 million views. Both executions are predominantly aimed at young men aged 18 to 24.

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  • Brian Rockenstein

    Umm, why do they have to decide which way it's coming from? A train is only two ways: to your front, or to your back. You can see the subjects hear the train and then have to decide which way it's coming from. In real life you don't have to decipher direction. Once you hear the train you get off the tracks.

  • Kert Jorgensen

    Didn't you notice that he still didn't hear it regardless of knowing which way to look? If it was coming up from behind you and you didn't hear it till it was too late doesn't matter if you only have to look two directions.