Rail noise is a major transportation noise problem in the United States. Within the rail noise realm, train horn noise is the biggest complaint from residents who live near train tracks. Noise from train engines and switching yards are also related issues.
Testimony of Jolene M. Molitoris, Federal
Railroad Administrator, On Train Horn Noise and Safety (March 1999)
This is the testimony of Jolene M. Molitoris and Kenneth R. Wykle, Federal Highway Administrator, U.S. Department of Transportation, before the Subcommittee on Surface Transportation and Merchant Marine, Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation. It investigates the background, nature, and future of the train horn noise problem from the FRA's perspective, giving a good indication of where we are going in the future of train horn noise.
Federal Railway Administration's Study of Florida Train Whistle Bans
In 1990 the Federal Railway Administration (FRA) completed a study of accidents at FEC crossings in August of 1990, after Florida had allowed whistle bans. They found that nighttime accidents were up 195% since the ban took effect.
FRA Emergency Order Number 15. Following the study mentioned above, the FRA issued Emergency Order Number 15 requiring the use of train horns in Florida.
The FRA undertook a national study in the wake of the Swift Rail Act. This study confirmed that whistle bans can increase the risk of accidents, and indicated an 84% increase in the collision rate at crossings with whistle bans in place.
Excerpt from the Swift Rail Act. In November of 1994, Congress enacted the Swift Rail Act. One section of this legislation (49 USC Sec. 20153) gave the Secretary of Transportation the power to require whistles at highway grade crossings, and to allow exceptions similar to the 'quiet zones' it allowed in the Florida Emergency Order.
Federal Railway Administration's opinion on federal preemption of local regulations regarding train horns
FRA Proposed Rule Regarding Train Horns. Finally in December of 1999, the FRA proposed a draft of the rule regarding train whistle requirements.