screechy subway sound what is it
February 23, 2004 11:05 AM   Subscribe

What's that noise that NYC subway cars often make when pulling out of a station? It sounds like a metal-on-metal screech, but has a definite three-note tonal quality (A-G-B?) to it. It seems like some kind of white noise/noise-cancellation, but I'd love to know the skinny.
posted by mkultra to Travel & Transportation around New York, NY (3 answers total)
That's the sound of the electrical systems generating power as the train pulls out of the station. Some people have noticed that the notes form a song from "West Side Story", appropriately enough.

Only the latest trains from Bombardier make this noise. The first batch of the new-generation cars makes a different, if no less harmonious, single tone with an upward whirring noise, nearly identical to the trains on the Paris Metro, sans tires. Bombardier made those cars as well.
posted by werty at 11:44 AM on February 23, 2004

Thank you so much, werty. I was going to post the same question a while back. Then I thought, "Oh, who the heck on AskMe could possibly know the answer to THAT?"

I'll have more faith next time.
posted by grumblebee at 1:31 PM on February 23, 2004

I imagine it's the same sound the Montreal Metro trains make. If you listen to this recording of ambient sound from the Metro, about 1 m 50 s in to the recording, you'll hear the three chimes. They sound like the horns at the beginning of Aaron Copland's Fanfare for the Common Man.
posted by teg at 5:59 PM on February 23, 2004

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