Abstract In the North West of France, more particularly in the region of the Somme Bay, where the ground is constituted mainly of peat, observation of the surface of the soil near railway tracks has revealed high levels of displacement. This paper, contains a prediction model and diagnosis of vibration near the track. A model of a railway track on layered ground subjected to a moving train has been built and the calculation method uses Fourier transform formalism for a semi-analytical solution in the wave number domain. It includes all elements of the track and allows a parametric analysis of its different elements and evaluation of vertical displacement according to the speed, weight and composition of each train. The diagnosis has been performed with in situ measurements and with the aim of the validation of the model. A parameter study of the ground undertaken by seismic measurements shows a critical speed close to 100 m/s while the studied trains are moving with sub-Rayleigh speeds. Measurements give us a lot of information about lateral and vertical acceleration on the soil's surface and parts of the track. For high speeds and freight trains, displacement reaches more than 10 mm.