FYI laying an antenna sideways will reduce your receiving signal by 6db to as much as 20db (which is quite a bit) due to cross-polarization. The railroad transmits in vertical polarization, an antenna that is sticking straight up is vertically polarized & radiates a torus shaped signal that looks like a donut laying flat. Generally speaking, towards all points of a compass level with the horizon.
If you lay the whip antenna sideways it becomes horizontally polarized & directional, receiving broadside to the antenna with nulls off the ends.
Again, just for generalization ease, 3db of loss is 1/2 power. ie:
1 watt @ 3db = 0.5 watts
1 watt @ 6db = 0.25 watts
1 watt @ 9db = 0.125 watts.
You can see the trend on how quickly a signal can degrade.
If you really don't want a whip (1/4 wavelength would be about 19" high) you can look into 1/4 wave flexible antennas that screw directly onto the radio as long as it uses the same connector (usually SMA type). These provide more gain. Alternatively you can try an active amplifier witch will need batteries or power adapter. They will cost more and the amplifier will be inline with the antenna.Post too long. Click here to view the full text.