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I Love Transit Week 2010: what’s your favourite transit chime?

It’s I Love Transit Week from July 12-16 — because even though there’s things we don’t like about transit, there’s much we do like! All week I’ll be sharing essays, stories, and more to celebrate transit. Come to I Love Transit Night on Thursday July 15 too – full details here!

Transit systems get a rare chance to be musical when they create systemwide audio chimes to get riders’ attention.

The most memorable chime I’ve ever heard is the one from SNCF, the French national railway. Play the video above and you’ll see what I mean! I remember being in Gare du Nord in Paris and hearing that chime go off once every ten minutes—it’s instantly recognizable, totally memorable, and lots of fun to imitate.

It also appears that the tone has been remixed into full length songs and advertising notices too: here’s one song, and here’s the tone remixed for the end of a SNCF TV ad.

Stations in Tokyo also have some fabulous transit chimes: the departing song in Takadanobaba Station is the Astroboy theme! The chimes are different depending on which station you’re in, or so I’m told.

I’d also say the SkyTrain chime is quite memorable too: you can listen to the story behind our chime here.

So to that end: do you have a favourite transit chime? Feel free to post links in the comments: and if you’d like to explore, you can find a long list of subway chimes and announcements at


  • By Devin, July 12, 2010 @ 5:24 pm

    The SkyTrain chime is my favourite! I used to imitate it when I was little and we went on car trips. Also, I made it into a ringtone based on that interview track posted on Buzzer Blog.

  • By Adam, July 12, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

    Japan Rail in general has a whole bunch of cool jingles. The one that was posted was just one of them.

    Only thing that Tokyo’s metro systems don’t have is full automation like they do here.

  • By zack, July 12, 2010 @ 7:23 pm

    Wow, Those jingles on make the Tokyo subway sound like a fun place. Here are a few of my favourite chimes.

    Beginning with our SkyTrain

    Toronto’s subway chimes also sound musical as seen here.

    Apparently, Montreal subway cars doesn’t have a chime installed, but their trains sound wonderful! More like a symphonic orchestra!

    And last but not least, Edomonton’s LRT system

  • By ;-), July 12, 2010 @ 7:25 pm

    Listening to the videos, I like our Skytrain more. I think we should make the Skytrain chime a downloadable ring tone.

    Hong Kong’s sounds like an evacuation alarm. Our’s is much more pleasant.

  • By Cree, July 13, 2010 @ 12:49 am

    I wish the SkyTrain network had specific chimes for each station to indicate the train is about to leave (much like Japan Rail)

    my favourite is back in Tokyo @ Shinagawa Sta aboard the Yamanote Line

  • By David Arthur, July 13, 2010 @ 7:02 am

    That Tokyo one seems a bit long for my taste. I suppose it’s a hard genre to compose in, since you need to restrain yourself from the sort of showing off that would be a good thing in most kinds of music.

    The SkyTrain’s chime is actually one of my favourites. [url=]Stockholm’s[/url] also has characer without being intrusive.

  • By zack, July 13, 2010 @ 7:57 am

    That’s odd! Where’s my post?

  • By Jhenifer Pabillano, July 13, 2010 @ 9:21 am

    zack: Oh, there’s a limit of 3 URLs you can post, to protect from spam. I can up that to 6 though.

  • By zack, July 13, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

    Oh, I didn’t know that, but thanks for the extension. :)

  • By East Vancouverite, July 23, 2010 @ 9:45 pm

    I have the SNCF jingle as the ringtone on my phone.

    I do like the SkyTrain chime too, especially when followed by the Mk1 train linear induction motor sound. Bombardier should not have changed the sound for the Mk2s.

Other Links to this Post

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