What are the rules for blowing train horns

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What are the rules for blowing train horns
Posted by railfan619 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 6:37 PM
Hi everyone. I got me a question when i was leaving for work this morning a Union Pac train was going though West Allis which only a mile or so from my house. and they got 6 or 7 crossings in a row and he went though at about 4:25 4:30 this morning just laying on his horn. and I mean it was a loud too. You could hear it from up two 2 or 3 miles away it was that loud. So now my question to you guys is what is the law about blowing ahorn that early in the morning and can the local cops stop the train and give the crew a ticket for distubing the peace that early in the morning.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 7:19 PM
 railfan619 wrote:
Hi everyone. I got me a question when i was leaving for work this morning a Union Pac train was going though West Allis which only a mile or so from my house. and they got 6 or 7 crossings in a row and he went though at about 4:25 4:30 this morning just laying on his horn. and I mean it was a loud too. You could hear it from up two 2 or 3 miles away it was that loud. So now my question to you guys is what is the law about blowing ahorn that early in the morning and can the local cops stop the train and give the crew a ticket for distubing the peace that early in the morning.
IT IS SAPOSSED TO BE TWO LONGS,ONE SHORT,AND ONE LONG. BUT NO MATTER THE CASE. NO RAILROAD FOLLOWS THE RULES. I HAVE SEE BOTH UP AND BNSF BREAK ALL THE RULES.
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Posted by tree68 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 7:33 PM

NORAC Eighth Edition (2003):  (GCOR will be similar)

19. Engine Whistle or Horn Signals

The following are engine whistle or horn signals. The signals are illustrated by "o" for short sounds and "—" for long sounds. The sound of the whistle or horn should be distinct, with intensity and duration proportionate to the distance the signal is to be conveyed. The unnecessary use of the engine whistle or horn is prohibited.

Engine whistle or horn signal must be sounded as follows:

SOUND INDICATION

(a) — Crew members apply brakes.

(b)— — o — 1. Approaching public crossing at grade and at a whistle post indicating "W" or "W/MX." This signal is to be prolonged or repeated until engine or train is on the crossing, or, where multiple crossings are involved, until the last crossing is occupied. The whistle or horn must not be sounded at a whistle post indicating "W/R," except in case of emergency.

2. Approaching locations where Roadway Workers may be at work on tracks, bridges and other points.

3. Approaching and passing standing trains.

(c) Succession of Alarm for person or animal on or about the track.

short sounds

(d) — o When running against the current of traffic:

1. Approaching stations, curves, or other points where view may be obscured.

2. Approaching passenger or freight trains; when passing freight trains.

3. Preceding 19(b), (1) and (2).

(e) o o o 1. When standing: warning or acknowledgment that the train is to back up.

2. When running: acknowledgement that the train is to stop at next passenger station.

(f) o o 1. Acknowledgment of a Stop Signal other than a fixed signal.

2. Acknowledgment of any other signal not otherwise provided for.

(g) o o o o Call for signals.

(h) — — — — Member of crew providing protection may return.

If all engine whistles or horns fail en route, the Engineer must take the following actions:

  1. 1. Notify the Dispatcher as soon as practical.

  2. 2. Ring the bell continuously, if equipped.

  3. 3. Approach all public crossings at grade prepared to stop.

  4. 4. Reduce speed to not exceeding 30 MPH while approaching locations where employees are known to be working.

  5. 5. Reduce speed at other locations where warranted by the prevailing conditions.

I believe the time before the crossing is supposed to be 15 to 20 seconds, regardless of speed.  The above is a cut and paste - sorry for any format errors.

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Posted by CShaveRR on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 7:56 PM

The loudness of the horn is something that usually cannot be controlled.  It's there.

Having said that, does West Allis have a ban on whistling?  I don't remember one, but a lot has changed since I was through there.  Even if it does, there's  the possibility that a second train was in the area--that is one time a crossing signal can be sounded regardless of a whistle ban.  Also, is there a chance that this was a warning for track crews at the wreck site?  That is also allowed, even in whistle-ban sites.

The rules give the engineer an "out"--if he perceives any risk to safety, he can sound his horn.  The cops shouldn't say anything about it.

Carl

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Posted by railfan619 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 7:58 PM
Ok i understand that stuff but all of these crossings have lights and gates to them. And I understand there might have been something on the tracks that the engineer saw but he just kept at it and like. I said before there are like 6 or 7 crossings all in a row along this strech of track.
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Posted by CShaveRR on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:02 PM
The presence of lights and gates does not suggest or imply a whistle ban.  As I said, if there were people in the area, or if another train could impair any driver's vision of his train (or, if on-track equipment has kept the signals activated), an engineer will sound his horn.

Carl

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Posted by railfan619 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:04 PM
Well as far as. I know there is no whistle ban in West allis but this set of tracks is all long residental there some buildings but it is mostly houses and I'm not too sure that the people were to happy about hearing that horn at 4:30 this morning but then again it would have bothered to much but anywho. Maybe it could have been a warning to any track crew around the wreck site but from the pictures. I saw it looked like it was pretty much cleaned up yesterday. But there were some crews working on the tracks today. So I really don't know oh well but thanks for answering my questions.
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Posted by traisessive1 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:08 PM

I'll add some Canadian perspective here.

In Canada ... it is the same 2 longs, a short and a long from the whistle post. It is supposed to be prolonged or repeated with intensity until the crossing is occupied. There is nothing in the CROR rule book about time from the post to the crossing.

So if there are 7 crossings in  one mile say ... you get 28 blows of the horn in that mile ... 7x4=28.

Although crews dont always do that, that is what is supposed to happen.

It doesn't matter if the crossings are protected by a concrete wall .. unless there is a whistle ban ... they must blow.

AND ... in the CROR there isnt anything about two trains going through a banned area and not sounding the horn. I havn't read anything in our divisional data either.

10000 feet and no dynamics? Today is going to be a good day ... 

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Posted by David_Telesha on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:18 PM

Larry has it right, but I'll reiterate.

b)— — o — 1. Approaching public crossing at grade and at a whistle post indicating "W" or "W/MX." This signal is to be prolonged or repeated until engine or train is on the crossing, or, where multiple crossings are involved, until the last crossing is occupied.

Its not just railroad rule, its Federal Law...unless there is a quiet zone. Crossing = train required to blow horn. Don't like it? Move away from the tracks, and don't buy there in the first place.

So in other words, the engineer did nothing wrong, or out of the ordinary, considering there are that many crossings in a row...

David Telesha New Haven Railroad - www.NHRHTA.org
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:26 PM
 railfan619 wrote:
but he just kept at it and like.


The standard explanation I usually hear when this happens is  that "some idiot in a car has driven around the crossing gates, trying to beat the train.

And although it doesn't do a darn bit of good, I guess it makes some engineers happy if they "retaliate" by trying to make the perpetrator (as well  as any nearby residents) deaf as payback.
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Posted by David_Telesha on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:28 PM

 BNSFrailfan wrote:
 railfan619 wrote:
Hi everyone. I got me a question when i was leaving for work this morning a Union Pac train was going though West Allis which only a mile or so from my house. and they got 6 or 7 crossings in a row and he went though at about 4:25 4:30 this morning just laying on his horn. and I mean it was a loud too. You could hear it from up two 2 or 3 miles away it was that loud. So now my question to you guys is what is the law about blowing ahorn that early in the morning and can the local cops stop the train and give the crew a ticket for distubing the peace that early in the morning.
IT IS SAPOSSED TO BE TWO LONGS,ONE SHORT,AND ONE LONG. BUT NO MATTER THE CASE. NO RAILROAD FOLLOWS THE RULES. I HAVE SEE BOTH UP AND BNSF BREAK ALL THE RULES.

You're a railfan... You don't work for the railroad... You can't even spell supposed... And we're supposed to take your word for that? Okay, yeah.

David Telesha New Haven Railroad - www.NHRHTA.org
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Posted by One Track Mind on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:37 PM
For what it's worth, I noticed that on uprr.com there is a new Union Pacific company policy on the correct way to blow the horns, took effect in April if I remember correctly. Don't remember exactly where I saw it within the site, but it was there about a month ago. I'm sure it was under the general public banner. Seemed like a good common sense policy to me. But then I've never been a train engineer and had a car pull out right in front of me.
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Posted by coborn35 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 8:56 PM

Jeez you should hear me when im running the WC 7528 in run 8 just howling through town. My hand hardly leaves the horn lever. Louder the Better. Who cares if it disturbs the residents? Once people stop running through the crossings, ill stop blowing the horn so loud.

 

(note* The WC 7528 is the WC's locomotive simulator, full sized, same as running a real locomotive. Trust me, ive broken trains in half when i was just learning....not too fun)

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Posted by RudyRockvilleMD on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:02 PM

The Federal Railroad Administration has preempted local grade crossing horn blowing bans by requiring communities with horn blowing bans to install crossing gates across both sides of the road, a barrier well back from the grade crossing to prevent cars from going around the gates, or a long crossing gate that reaches across both sides of the road. However, some communities with horn blowing bans at grade crossings may be exempt from the Federal Railroad Administration's preemption because the ban was in place before the Federal Railroad Administration preempted the control of horn blowing at grade crossings, further, engineers may sound the horn if they see a safety hazard such as somebody walking along the tracks or a car going around a crossing gate at a grade crossing.

 

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Posted by youngengineer on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:13 PM

If you dont like how much I blow the horn, move, If you think I blow the horn to much, come take a ride with me in the cab. I never as a railfan worried much about how much a horn was blown. I always felt that the railroad was there first. Now I am the one in the cab, and honestly I can say the new FRA rule is stupid at best. The rule should have stayed the same, Start at the whistle board and continue through the crossing. If one buys a house next to the track, sorry but you could have looked out the back window and seen the tracks. Whistle bans, effictive till someone gets killed, but I believe this was discussed before.

 

And by the way I am responsible for sticking to the FRA guide lines and subject to a $27,000.00 fine if I do not blow the crossing at all. I can also be held civillaly responsible for a grade crossing accident if I do not use the proper horn rules. For me I wish to blow to much than to kill someone because its 4 am.

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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:29 PM
 David_Telesha wrote:

 BNSFrailfan wrote:
 railfan619 wrote:
Hi everyone. I got me a question when i was leaving for work this morning a Union Pac train was going though West Allis which only a mile or so from my house. and they got 6 or 7 crossings in a row and he went though at about 4:25 4:30 this morning just laying on his horn. and I mean it was a loud too. You could hear it from up two 2 or 3 miles away it was that loud. So now my question to you guys is what is the law about blowing ahorn that early in the morning and can the local cops stop the train and give the crew a ticket for distubing the peace that early in the morning.
IT IS SAPOSSED TO BE TWO LONGS,ONE SHORT,AND ONE LONG. BUT NO MATTER THE CASE. NO RAILROAD FOLLOWS THE RULES. I HAVE SEE BOTH UP AND BNSF BREAK ALL THE RULES.

You're a railfan... You don't work for the railroad... You can't even spell supposed... And we're supposed to take your word for that? Okay, yeah.

Im not trying to pick a fight. But for your info. Yes. There are still alot of engineers who do not use the proper sounding of the horn. You cannot tell me that engineers who do not violate the federal law. I am not dumb. I hear them every day. But am I complaining? no.
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Posted by Anonymous on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:35 PM
 youngengineer wrote:

If you dont like how much I blow the horn, move, If you think I blow the horn to much, come take a ride with me in the cab. I never as a railfan worried much about how much a horn was blown. I always felt that the railroad was there first. Now I am the one in the cab, and honestly I can say the new FRA rule is stupid at best. The rule should have stayed the same, Start at the whistle board and continue through the crossing. If one buys a house next to the track, sorry but you could have looked out the back window and seen the tracks. Whistle bans, effictive till someone gets killed, but I believe this was discussed before.

 

And by the way I am responsible for sticking to the FRA guide lines and subject to a $27,000.00 fine if I do not blow the crossing at all. I can also be held civillaly responsible for a grade crossing accident if I do not use the proper horn rules. For me I wish to blow to much than to kill someone because its 4 am.

You may think that the FRA rules are stupid if you go and kill someone while on the job.
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Posted by railfan619 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:45 PM
OK now I'm sure that i went and opened a can of worms on this but. Also I would not care about trains blowing their horns at 4:30 in the morning in fact I would love it cause then. I wouldn't need an alarm clock. But on the other hand people that work 2nd shift that are tryin to sleep might get a little ticked. But If i had any chance to go ride in a cab of an engine just to get an enginers presctive (spelling might be off on that word). But any who and all of you are right. Blowing a train horn at every grade crossing is a safety thing cause you really never know when someone will happily decide to go around gates that are down and get mauled by a train that's movin at 40 MPH or faster. And of course once someone does get killed at a grade crossing then the family of the victim sues the railroad for not blowing enough times to warn the traffic that the train was coming at full speed down the tracks. So like I said If I did open a can of worms on this subject I really did not mean to. And you are right If someone is standing on or near the tracks at anytime and a train is coming down the tracks the engineer would and should have any and every right to blow the horn as many times he wants to until that person moves. off of the tracks. And you guys are right the louder the better so it makes that person blankty blank themsleves cause the train kept blowin his horn as he came up to the crossing and beyond cause there is another crossing 50 from the first one then that's what he'll do. So that's all for now so that's it I'll be talkin to you all later.
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Posted by dldance on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 9:49 PM

I am a volunteer at the Golden Spike NHS.  Much of the track at the site cannot be seen from the engine house - but there are duties that must be done to get ready for the engines to return to the engine house.  We have to follow all the FRA whistle rules as well.  Just from hearing the whistle signals, I know where each locomotive is and what it is doing -- even though I cannot see them.  That communication helps keep operations fluid and safe.

dd

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Posted by railfan619 on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 10:00 PM
One more quick question how would I go about getting a ride in a locomotive if at all but I think. It might not really be allowed for safety reasons but if it could happen. I would like to ride on a line like the one though West Allis with lots of crossings. So I can hear everything and see everything the engineer sees and hears which. For me it would be avery cool once in a life time experince.
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Posted by ChuckCobleigh on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 10:07 PM
Everything you want to know about the Federal Train Horn rules:

http://www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/1318


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Posted by dldance on Wednesday, September 6, 2006 10:09 PM

 railfan619 wrote:
One more quick question how would I go about getting a ride in a locomotive if at all but I think. It might not really be allowed for safety reasons but if it could happen. I would like to ride on a line like the one though West Allis with lots of crossings. So I can hear everything and see everything the engineer sees and hears which. For me it would be avery cool once in a life time experince.

the quickest ways are the "engineer for a day" or locomotive rental programs at some of the tourist RRs.  These not only get you into the cab safely, but some training and experience working with some real nice people.

dd

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Posted by Anonymous on Thursday, September 7, 2006 12:32 AM
Regarding a segment or section of rail leading into a rail yard (I'm thinking specifically of a place like Vernon, CA in the LA area for UP or the BNSF equivalent), aren't any potential "whistle-free" designations null and void?  I read an LA Times story once where Vernon was just about the only place in the Southland not enjoying the real-estate boom the other localities did, primarily (the writer suggested) b/c the residents were subjected to multiple horn-blowings, with large instances of "shave and a haircut, two bits" (don't ask me how this is possible on a modern horn!)  Do localities always have the final word on whether the horns get blown or not, or does RR yard safety trump local homeowners' wishes?  Also, even where there are whistle-free zones, isn't the standard rule there that the engineer can blow the horn, say, after the first in a successive line of crossings w/in the zone, and then not again?

Riprap
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Posted by fuzzybroken on Thursday, September 7, 2006 12:46 AM
I've lived most of my life near railroad tracks, including a couple years in the very neighborhood being discussed.  I always recognized the sounds of the railroad when I was awake, and slept right through them when I was asleep!  I suspect that many of the people in that neighborhood do the same...

-Fuzzy Fuzzy World 3
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Posted by Train Guy 3 on Thursday, September 7, 2006 8:50 PM
Can someone explain to me why there are even such a things as "quiet zones". To me they just don't sound safe even if the crossing is equiped with quad-gates or long gates. I can't see why a counity would want a band on horns... seems like too much of a safety hazzard.

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Posted by tree68 on Thursday, September 7, 2006 9:36 PM

The odds of a legal cab ride on a Class 1 are probably pretty slim, although they do happen.  You're better off with a local shortline, or perhaps a tourist line (I paid for my first cab ride via a donation to my local PBS station).  Become friends with local railroaders.

As a volunteer on a tourist line, I can now catch a cab ride about any time I want one (if I'm not working on the train itself).

It can be an enlighting experience.  Even the thought that the deer on the tracks ahead may not move in time makes your heart rate rise.  Much moreso if it's a car in a crossing.  I was lucky enough not to be in the cab the day a pickup pulled out in front of us.  He moved in time, but by then we were already in emergency...

LarryWhistling
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Posted by fuzzybroken on Thursday, September 7, 2006 11:41 PM
 Train Guy 3 wrote:
Can someone explain to me why there are even such a things as "quiet zones". To me they just don't sound safe even if the crossing is equiped with quad-gates or long gates. I can't see why a counity would want a band on horns... seems like too much of a safety hazzard.

Safety?  Nobody cares about safety!  Those people don't want their sleep (or whatever) interrupted by those big bad loud trains whose only possible purpose in life is to disturb them.  Especially since they only started running trains and blowing the horns AFTER they moved in!  Those horrible railroads...  (Tongue in cheek, and slightly beyond reality -- on second thought, maybe not! -- but you get the point...)

"counity"?  You get that keyboard from "Misery"??? Evil [}:)]

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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, September 8, 2006 11:13 AM
 Train Guy 3 wrote:
I can't see why a counity would want a band on horns... .


Personally, I think that the idea of rolling carillons was a good idea, but there are others here who scoffed when I suggested it.Headphones [{(-_-)}]
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Posted by CSSHEGEWISCH on Friday, September 8, 2006 12:34 PM
A properly protected quiet zone, especially one designed with the co-operation of the railroad and the municipality, can be safe.  The best-known quiet zone in the Chicago area is on the CSX Blue Island sub between 123rd Street and 95th Street.  Grade crossings are protected by quad gates and road dividers, with signs indicating "No Train Horn" under the standard circular sign for grade crossings.  Engineers are to sound the bell at each crossing and are allowed to sound the horn in an emergency.
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Posted by Anonymous on Friday, September 8, 2006 1:27 PM
Who actually picks the tone and decible level of the horns used?  The Gov't? the RR"s themselves?, The Manufacturers?

Back in the stone age, the whistle of a steam engine had an almost enchanting affect.

The first generation diesels (F-7's etc) with their "buzzer" sounding horns were not overbearing, either.

Even the second generation diesels, with their 'muted trombone' sound was not as piercing as todays modern horns.

Seems as though a lot of effort has gone into finding an intonation that is as irritating as possible, probably to make them more noticeable, but  by same token more contemptible.

Just curious if the Gov't specifies that rigidly, or if the various RR's have their own standards.

One of the locals here on the NS has a unit with not all of it's chimes working, the shrill, highpitched end is missing.

And while it is slightly off key as a result, it actually is a more pleasant horn to have around,  sounds almost like when those old blues trumpeters would hold a bowl over their horns for that hollow sound. Easy on the ears.

I laugh to myself everytime I hear them go by.

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