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Can you say The train has surfaced to describe the moment when a train emerges from a tunnel?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

I would probably say:

The train has emerged

or, more simply:

The train has exited

…as long as the context is clear.

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It's not particularly common phrasing, but here are a few written instances.

Personally, I'm barely comfortable with trains "surfacing" from extended sections of underground track. I wouldn't use the word for a train coming out of a few hundred metres of tunnel through a small hillside, for example.

For me, things normally surface out of liquid. If I get off an underground train and climb the stairs to street level, I'd say "I emerged", or "I arrived at the surface", rather than "I surfaced".

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One can also emerge from liquid. – cornbread ninja 麵包忍者 Jun 26 '12 at 2:43
@cornbread ninja: Yes, but I think mostly you "emerge" from some kind of *container". – FumbleFingers Jun 26 '12 at 12:09

Emerged - as Cameron - is generally better, however some tube trains do come out of tunnels into surface tracks, so in these cases, it might be appropriate to say "surfaced". However this is more in the context of "is now running on surface rails" than "has just emerged from a tunnel". It would be equally valid if the train was in an uncovered cutting - technically under ground level, but not in a tunnel.

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I'd say yes, but only if this was a tunnel with upward slope, like a tunnel under a river or end of a subway line in otherwise flat terrain. If the tunnel is in a mountain side, or some hill, and the train emerges horizontally, then Cameron's answer is the correct one.

enter image description here

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Is that the Channel Tunnel? – TRiG Oct 31 '12 at 1:17

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