Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!

No train horn at crossing

1891 views
20 replies
1 rating 2 rating 3 rating 4 rating 5 rating
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Flushing,Michigan
  • 811 posts
No train horn at crossing
Posted by HaroldA on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:04 AM

Yesterday I had an opportunity to drive over to Durand, Michigan, and while  in town I went over to the old historic depot.  This is on the National Register of Historic places and is a really neat old structure.  Now Durand is a busy railroad town and has many crossings in the downtown area.  What surprised me were the signs at the crossings that said "No Train Horn" whether or not there were gates or signals.

I have never seen this and actually thought it was the law for trains to sound warnings as they approached crossing but apparently that isn't true.  I have found other cities were there are 'quiet zones' and trains are not allowed to sound warnings which seems to be rather dangerous.  The signs have to meet federal guidelines.  Has anyone else seen this?

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.....

  • Member since
    December, 2004
  • From: Bedford, MA, USA
  • 15,271 posts
Posted by MisterBeasley on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:15 AM

I've seen it here in Massachusetts, although the grade crossings have gates and flashing lights.

It takes an iron man to play with a toy iron horse. 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 3,154 posts
Posted by CAZEPHYR on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:24 AM

HaroldA

Yesterday I had an opportunity to drive over to Durand, Michigan, and while  in town I went over to the old historic depot.  This is on the National Register of Historic places and is a really neat old structure.  Now Durand is a busy railroad town and has many crossings in the downtown area.  What surprised me were the signs at the crossings that said "No Train Horn" whether or not there were gates or signals.

I have never seen this and actually thought it was the law for trains to sound warnings as they approached crossing but apparently that isn't true.  I have found other cities were there are 'quiet zones' and trains are not allowed to sound warnings which seems to be rather dangerous.  The signs have to meet federal guidelines.  Has anyone else seen this?

We have this type of deal several places in California, but the crossing signals and lights are right in your face and they have speakers to emit train horn sounds that are much lower in decibles than real ones.  The crossings have a large sign with flashing LED's displaying warnings. 

 

 The great things about the signs and speakers is when the 844 came to town last year, they ignored the no sounding of the Horn and blew the whistle just like it should be.   Remember, the sign said no train horns, but steam uses a whistle!!!   No one complained. 

Safety wise, the signs are very effective, but an unguarded crossing could be dangerous without the sounding of the horn.

CZ

 

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 990 posts
Posted by peahrens on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:40 AM

Our town (New Braunfels TX) is implementing silent crossings in "quiet zones" with a multi-year $4.7MM project. Only the first of two phases is approved, and I'm not sure if the $ shown covers both phases. It involves revamping many of the crossings to make it harder for knuckleheads to go around the crossing arms (and adding arms in the few crossings that were just warning lights), mostly by installing small concrete curb medians, about 2' wide, between the lanes to keep cars behind the crossing arm.  I believe the engineer may be advised or authorized to still sound the horn when he sees a car approaching, or maybe just when he is concerned an approaching car may be about to do something out of bounds.

This is said to be a quality of life improvement, certainly discretionary and debatable when city budgets and priorities are considered.  Some folks have the tracks in their back yard and probably don't consider the horns quaint, as I do, with my interest in trains and living about 1/3 mile away.  Of course you get into the issue of who was there first, as near airports, but some folks can only afford the house next to the tracks.  And the community playhouse is not fond of the horns going off about 300 yards from their performances. 

I'm not sure whether our project is all city funds or partly supplemented by some federal program.  I did see another city was part local and part federal grants, so I'd guess our project is similar.  I won't get into my political mode on that. 

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    December, 2008
  • From: Indiana
  • 1,285 posts
Posted by Doughless on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:12 AM

Certain cities and towns have passed ordinances that do not allow trains to blow their horns.  They must pass through town quietly.  Usually, these are towns that have trains pass through frequently enough to where the horn blowing would be pretty annoying.  I assumed such towns would require crossing gates and flashers as a safety supplement, but that may not be the case everywhere.

I was at the old NYC depot in Elkhart Indiana a while back, right next to the tracks of course.  As a testiment to the advanced "quietness" of today's technology, the big six axle locomotives pulling a unit train passed by the depot, with me in it, undetected by me.  I heard nothing until the clickity-clack of the cars wheels on the tracks.  Perhaps I just didn't notice them, but the locos passed by almost steathly quiet and I was stunned to realize that a train was actually passing by at rather good speed dozens of feet away from me. 

I think communities are very concerned about noise, and safety may becoming compromised.

As an OT side note:  The stealthy performance of these locomotives gives credence to those on this forum who believe that most of the noise you hear from the train comes from the train itself and not the locomotives.  Which is fodder for the onboard sound/non sound discussions....

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 990 posts
Posted by peahrens on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:23 AM

Doughless

side note:  The stealthy performance of these locomotives gives credence to those on this forum who believe that most of the noise you hear from the train comes from the train itself and not the locomotives.  Which is fodder for the onboard sound/non sound discussions....

Next:  rubber freight & passenger car wheels, and solar powered locos!

Paul

Modeling HO with a transition era UP bent

  • Member since
    March, 2003
  • From: Central Iowa
  • 2,759 posts
Posted by jeffhergert on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:46 AM

Quiet Zones are regulated by the FRA.  To establish a QZ, the city or town must meet certain requirements to get a waiver and establish a QZ.  They can pass all the local ordinances they want, but they mean nothing without the FRA waiver.  The requirements have to do with making it harder to run around lowered gates.  Usually it means either lane dividers or four quadrant gates.  However, I do know that there have been QZs allowed where at least one crossing was allowed without the needed enhancements because it was close enough to the other modified crossings.  (You might think the unmodified crossing is the least busiest.  It actually is the busiest, on the main north/south street through town.)

Rules require the engine bell to be rung when operating through QZs.  Also, there are conditions when the rules require the horn to be sounded in a QZ.  The QZ really means that under normal conditions, the trains won't sound their horns to warn people at the crossing.

 

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Flushing,Michigan
  • 811 posts
Posted by HaroldA on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 3:36 PM

I guess I could see the use of quiet zones.  I remember when I was a kid my grandma's house was one block off the tracks and when the steamers came through everything vibrated - even her front porch and the noise was a little over the top.

I have to smile at the notion of trains passing quietly through towns - I am about 3 miles from my town and when conditions are right I still hear the trains.  I almost bought a condo downtown until I saw where the tracks were and decided on the 'peace and quiet' of the country.

 

There's never time to do it right, but always time to do it over.....

  • Member since
    February, 2002
  • From: Mpls/St.Paul
  • 9,026 posts
Posted by wjstix on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 4:09 PM

Blowing horns/whistles is technically a local or state law, not federal. When the FRA put out a ruling saying it was OK for cities to create 'no horn' crossings, it emphasized in their finding that this shouldn't be taken to mean the FRA had the power to regulate such things, just that cities or counties etc. could create quiet crossings if they wanted to.

Stix
  • Member since
    July, 2013
  • 5 posts
Posted by Bozo Texino on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:31 PM

The city of San Diego spent millions of taxpayer dollars on reconfiguring quiet zone grade crossings downtown and then neglected to inform NCTD about the changes. So the engineers on the Coaster continued to blow the horns for the crossings downtown. They heard about that soon enough!

 

  • Member since
    July, 2003
  • From: Whitby, ON
  • 2,571 posts
Posted by CP5415 on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 8:50 PM

We have this in Canada as well, & it's a municipal bylaw here, at least in Ontario.

CP has a couple in Whitby/Oshawa where they are not allowed to blow the horns which is weird because CN has no bylaw & I can hear the horn a couple of miles away. Go figure!

Gordon

Brought to you by the letters C.P.R. as well as D&H!

 K1a - all the way

  • Member since
    June, 2003
  • From: Culpeper, Va
  • 6,746 posts
Posted by IRONROOSTER on Tuesday, July 02, 2013 9:05 PM

Used to be one in Manassas Virginia, but only at night.  I don't remember what the hours were (the crossing has since been replaced with a highway overpass), but they were on the sign.  And yes the crossing had gates and lights.

Paul

If you're having fun, you're doing it the right way.
  • Member since
    June, 2006
  • From: northeast ohio
  • 904 posts
Posted by 0-6-0 on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 9:32 AM

Hello they tried to do this by me as well. We had a crossing with just flashing lights in my neighborhood. I live about 20 house away from the crossing its not a busy line 1-2 trains a day mostly at 3am. The neighbour's wanted the horn to stop. They fought for these gates that have arms and lights and bells. I said it wont matter what you put there the trains has to blow the horn when its crossing the road its for safety. Well they won and got the gates. But I won to the train still blows the horn. Now we get flashing lights and a ringing bell with the horn at 3am. 

There is a mine line by my work that gets 8-15 trains a day and it goes by a neighborhood they tried to stop the horn also. They got the same thing we did pulse a sound deadening wall that runs between the tracks and the house's. I would rather have the sound of the horn then all the other stuff. Have a nice day Frank

  • Member since
    October, 2007
  • From: Fullerton, California
  • 546 posts
Posted by hornblower on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 1:39 PM

As an acoustical engineer, I have to chuckle at the idiocy of these "Quiet Zone" grade crossings.  Instead of a passing train sounding its horn a few times as it approaches and passes the crossing, the "Quiet Zone" crossings add simulated electronic horns that sound for the entire duration of each train's passing.  So instead of several receptors being impacted by a single loud horn blast as the train passes their location (the blasts before and after are not as loud as the blast directly opposite the receptor), now all of the receptors adjacent to the grade crossing get to listen to the electronic train horns continuously for the duration of each train's passing.  Yes, people will argue that the electronic horns aren't as loud as real train horns but, unless a sound is loud enough to hurt your ears,  people tend to respond to noise more from duration than actual level.  

People are typically less annoyed by loud aircraft noise since even by an airport, the noise is intermittent.  If the noise is loud enough to stop conversation, it does so for only a limited time and normal conversation is again possible when the aircraft flies away.  Conversely, living next to a freeway can be far more annoying as the noise level, though often less than peak aircraft noise, is continuous and never pauses to allow normal level conversation.  Train crossing activity is usually infrequent when compared to other noise sources.  I live about five hundred feet from the BNSF main line through Fullerton, California.  Between BNSF, Amtrak and Metrolink, there are about 100 trains on this line per day.  When we first moved to this location, we could hear the trains all the time.  After 25 years, we hardly notice them anymore.  Aside from occasional coupler crashes and one nutty engineer who tries to play Jingle Bells on his horn every Christmas season, I have simply learned to tune out everything else.

Hornblower

  • Member since
    January, 2010
  • 4,837 posts
Posted by zstripe on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 2:03 PM

I like the people,who buy a house next to a river,,then complain that their property flood's..In most case's,the river,the crossing and a few other tidbits were there,before the property was built..

Cheers,

Frank

  • Member since
    February, 2013
  • 98 posts
Posted by Bob Schuknecht on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 4:56 PM

One of my best friends lives in Durand and the no horn ordinance goes back to steam days. It is not new.

  • Member since
    February, 2012
  • 77 posts
Posted by gn.2-6-8-0 on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 6:00 PM

Reminds me of a story about the town fathers of Wyzata Minn. when they told James J Hill owner of the Great Northern RR that the whistles of trains coming into town were disturbing the residents sleep and would he kindly see what he could do. Told'em not a problem he'd fix it.............had his crews in the next day and dismantel'd the station and moved it ten mile out of town.....All fixed!!

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: upstate NY
  • 7,913 posts
Posted by galaxy on Wednesday, July 03, 2013 8:52 PM

Yep, it happens.

In residential districts, whether historical or not, often have "no horn" crossings , or only "no horn" at night when passing through town.

God forbid, that the train horn wake someone up who lives next to/close to the tracks!

There is one crossing in the nearby town where accidents are waiting to happen, even with the gates,the  trains go whizzing through downtown at more than 40MPH on a curved, banked crossing with 0 visibility! At night  the "no horn" law and heaven help the person who is drunk form a night's outing and NOT paying attention, or who gets stuck on the tracks behind someone who is waiting to make a turn onto Erie street. Can you say "crunch"? I knew you could!

Trucks have ben known to get stlled and "adrift" on the height of the tracks.Eeven with warnigns.

i find it amusing, as close to the tracks, the rumble of the train is often enough to wake someone in Davy Jone's locker!

Geeked

-G .

Just my thoughts, ideas, opinions and experiences. Others may vary.

 HO and N Scale.

After long and careful thought, they have convinced me. I have come to the conclusion that they are right. The aliens did it.

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 3,302 posts
Posted by locoi1sa on Thursday, July 04, 2013 5:01 PM

I wonder if the railroads sign some sort of release of liability when there is an established quiet zone? Even though the videos show the gates down, horn blaring and the truck going around the gates the UP was held responsible for the deaths of the disabled vets because of a little gate timing error!  Imagine how much money your family would get in a quiet zone area because you were stupid and tried to beat the train!!!  With such a litigious society we live in its a wonder why the railroads would allow quiet zones at all.

           Pete

 I pray every day I break even, Cause I can really use the money!

 I started with nothing and still have most of it left!

  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • From: Boise, Idaho
  • 555 posts
Posted by E-L man tom on Friday, July 05, 2013 12:07 PM

I used to live in Ft. Collins, Colorado, where the BNSF tracks run right down through town, right down the middle of one of the main city streets and across many of the city streets, including the main entrances to the Colorado State University campus. The structures along this part of the line are mostly commercial (office buildings, shops and restaurants, etc.). They have a permanent slow order (probably 10-15 mph) for that segment of the line. Horns are blown at all crossings there. I don't know how many complaints the railroad has gotten, but I was told that they find it cheaper to put up with the complaints (and possible lawsuits) than it is to reroute the line around town. 

Tom Modeling the free-lanced Toledo Erie Central switching layout.
  • Member since
    July, 2006
  • 3,154 posts
Posted by CAZEPHYR on Saturday, July 06, 2013 1:45 PM

locoi1sa

I wonder if the railroads sign some sort of release of liability when there is an established quiet zone? Even though the videos show the gates down, horn blaring and the truck going around the gates the UP was held responsible for the deaths of the disabled vets because of a little gate timing error!  Imagine how much money your family would get in a quiet zone area because you were stupid and tried to beat the train!!!  With such a litigious society we live in its a wonder why the railroads would allow quiet zones at all.

           Pete

 

No doubt the railroad will be sued and pay up if anyone is hurt.  I would bet lawyers just love this type of situation.   They can argue the railroad should never have agreed to quiet zones and are responsible.

 

Our city is trying to get the Union Pacific to have four quiet zones this year. 

Vehicles including trucks drive around the crossing gates instead of waiting.  The Amtrak train in Nevada that was hit in the side by a truck five cars back is being sued.  I hope that case is settled fairly. Several people died in that accident and lawsuits are flying high.  If the driver did not see the train directly in front of the truck, no quiet zone would have saved him.

 Maybe our crossing signs should say,     Look, Listen and get off the cell phone,  there might be a train coming since the lights are flashing RED.

CZ

Subscriber & Member Login

Login, or register today to interact in our online community, comment on articles, receive our newsletter, manage your account online and more!
Popular on ModelRailroader.com
Model Railroader Newsletter See all
Sign up for our FREE e-newsletter and get model railroad news in your inbox!
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

Search the Community

ADVERTISEMENT
Find us on Facebook

Loading...