Train Whistle Noise
Why Do Trains Sound Their Horns?
Trains sound horns or whistles before crossings as a universal safety precaution for the traveling public. Railroad engineers are required by federal law to sound a horn or whistle at every public railroad/highway crossing, unless a Quiet Zone has been authorized. There is no requirement for railroad engineers to sound a horn or whistle at public railroad/pedestrian crossings or private crossings.
For more information read the Train Horn Rule
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires railroad engineers to begin sounding the train horn at least 15 seconds, and not more than 20 seconds in advance of all public at-grade railroad/highway crossings. A Quiet Zone is one or more crossings in a corridor where the FRA has authorized the railroad to discontinue the regular sounding of the train horn at the public crossing in that corridor. The engineers are still authorized to sound the horn in instances where they consider it an emergency. At a minimum, every at-grade crossing in a Quiet Zone must be equipped with train activated flashing light signals and automatic gates.
To receive authorization for a Quiet Zone the Government Agency responsible for the road that crosses the tracks must submit an application to the FRA. The FRA will then work with the road authority to help put together a diagnostic team consisting of representatives from the FRA, the road authority(ies), the railroad(s), and ODOT Rail & Public Transit Division. The diagnostic team will investigate and review the crossings in the proposed Quiet Zone corridor and determine what improvements, if any, need to be implemented at each crossing. The Government Agency requesting the Quiet Zone is typically responsible for funding all improvements required. The improvements will need to be completed before the FRA will authorize the Quiet Zone.
Citizens who wish to have a quiet zone established should contact their local Government Agency.
For more information read the Guide to the Quiet Zone Establishment Process
Noise Concern Investigation
The Federal Railroad Administration regulates railroad noise. Contact the Administration’s regional office in Vancouver, Washington to report concerns about railroad noise.
Federal Railroad Administration Region 8 Office: 360-696-7536