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Caltrain to return whistles to underneath trains

Original post made on Sep 18, 2009

Amid sustained complaints from residents since Caltrain moved its train whistles to the tops of its engines, the rail agency says it has begun work on a project to return the whistles to their original location beneath the engines.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, September 18, 2009, 1:01 PM

Comments (7)

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Posted by Barry Jones
a resident of The Crossings
on Sep 18, 2009 at 3:33 pm

That's good to see, but surprising that such low tech solutions are still being pursued. Using wireless technology the train could just activate a whistle installed at the gate and that would solve everyone's problem, though I'm unclear whether these whistles really do any good in the first place anyway. Train technology has been with us a couple centuries now. If people don't know to look both ways before crossing by now, when will they ever learn?


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Posted by Jerry
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 18, 2009 at 7:25 pm

The southbound trains at Mountain View station used to not making any horns, but now they are sounding long loud horns departing the stations, even they have stopped. For someone who lives near the station, it's like 50 secs non-stop horns for every train. And during rush hours, the noise is non stop for 2 hours. They claim they need to do that because the regulation asks them to. But the FRA rule states:

"If a train stops in close proximity to a crossing, the horn does not have to be sounded when the train begins to move again."

Obviously they need to look into the FRA horn rule more closely, and here is the link to the Fact sheet: Web Link


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Posted by Engineer
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2009 at 7:01 pm

There are two separate issues here. One is that the FRA found that the modified whistles which Caltrain has been using for the last several years were not in compliance with regulations requiring the whistles to be able to make both long and distinguishably short sounds. The original modification job was done so cheaply and was so poorly designed that engineers were unable to make proper whistle signals as required by law. Moving the horns back to the roof was the quick and easy solution to the immediate compliance problem, and now they are finally going to do the modification to move the horns back below the way they SHOULD have done it the first time -- satisfying the FRA, the engineers, AND (hopefully) the neighbors.

The other issue happened around the same time. The CPUC suddenly decided (out of nowhere) that Caltrain needed to start sounding the whistle at each and every station pedestrian crossing, in effect treating them like road crossings, something which was not being done before. So now, if you live near a station which has pedestrian crossings (many have one at each end), then even if there are no road crossings nearby you are hearing trains whistle as if there are two road crossings nearby. Annoying and unnecessary. There are already rules in place requiring engineers to sound the whistle at stations if needed. The CPUC is going overboard by requiring 4 distinct blasts (two long, a short, and another long) at each pedestrian crossing.

Whistles are for people in automobiles, who can't hear the train's bell. Pedestrians can hear the bell just fine. Those that still have their heads you-know-where can then be reminded by the whistle if needed.


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Posted by Flute
a resident of another community
on Sep 19, 2009 at 11:32 pm

Do we even need this train? It was incredibly slow the one time I took it. I was hopelessly late for an appointment. I'd rather telecommute than spend 1/3 of my life riding Caltrain.


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Posted by Dan
a resident of another community
on Sep 21, 2009 at 12:09 pm

So Flute, you would somehow spend 8 hours a day (every day) riding Caltrain? Why -- do you plan on hiring-on as a conductor?

And thanks for the suggestion to completely abandon an entire public transit system (which many thousands of people rely on each day) because "that one time" you took it, it was slow and made you late. By the same reasoning, do we even need cars or airplanes or ships? "That one time" I drove on 101 to get to a baseball game it was incredibly slow and I was hopelessly late for the first pitch. Let's rip out 101, because obviously it's not worth all the taxpayer dollars that support it.

And by the way, just out of curiosity, did you even bother looking at a schedule before you tried riding Caltrain to make sure you'd get where you were going on time?


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Posted by Teflu
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Oct 2, 2009 at 11:01 am

I am with you here, we do need a good reliable transit system but do we really need Caltrain?
These guys are hopelessly stuck in the 50s they seem like the most incompetent bunch of people ever to run a rail system.
Everywhere you go in the US or elsewhere you find safe, reliable and quiet rail transit systems (including BART)
Why are we stuck with Caltrain in the peninsula? These guys should be taken over by someone who knows how to run a public transportation company, the horn incident is just the last in a long line of blunders
Lets free ourselves from Caltrain and fire these guys!


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Posted by andy c
a resident of another community
on Oct 15, 2009 at 10:49 pm

i use caltrain every day to commute between san carlos and sf. it works pretty great, cheaper and faster than bart too. in two months it has only been late twice, and once was when that guy got killed after he pulled over on the tracks to get out of the way of fire trucks.

i suspect that the posters complaining about it rarely use public transit anyway.


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