The feasibility of obstacle detection along a railway track through Rayleigh wave sensing was empirically studied using a laser vibrometer mounted along railway tracks at specific test sites. The impact of obstacles like rock and timber of varying weights dropped on rail head, rail ballast, and sleeper was recorded using the laser vibrometer. It could detect the vibrations generated by the impact of rock and timber drop from a distance of 2 km. The results were cross-verified using finite-element simulation and it was established that the waves propagating along the railway track are indeed Rayleigh waves. Sensing of Rayleigh wave generation under object drop along railway track can pave way to a technology on real-time railway track monitoring for obstacle detection. © 1967-2012 IEEE.