I hold romantic notions about the sound of distant trains in the countryside at night. Perhaps this is due to the fact that I am a city dweller. Or perhaps it has something to do with country music -- Emmylou Harris singing "Tulsa Queen," for instance.
Siegfried Sassoon wrote the following poem near the beginning of the Second World War:
A Local Train of Thought
Alone, in silence, at a certain time of night,
Listening, and looking up from what I'm trying to write,
I hear a local train along the Valley. And "There
Goes the one-fifty," think I to myself; aware
That somehow its habitual travelling comforts me,
Making my world seem safer, homelier, sure to be
The same to-morrow; and the same, one hopes, next year.
"There's peacetime in that train." One hears it disappear
With needless warning whistle and rail-resounding wheels.
"That train's quite like an old familiar friend," one feels.
Siegfried Sassoon, Rhymed Ruminations (1940).
I would ask myself what time it could be; I could hear the whistling of trains, which, now nearer and now further off, punctuating the distance like the note of a bird in the forest, showed me in perspective the deserted countryside through which a traveller is hurrying towards the nearby station; and the path he is taking will be engraved in his memory by the excitement induced by strange surroundings, by unaccustomed activities, by the conversation he has had and the farewells exchanged beneath an unfamiliar lamp that still echo in his ears amid the silence of the night, and by the happy prospect of being home again.
Marcel Proust, Swann's Way (translated by C. K. Scott Moncrieff and Terence Kilmartin; translation revised by D. J. Enright) (1913).