Town Square

Post a New Topic

Caltrain promises to reduce horn volume

Original post made on Jul 31, 2009

Following an outcry from people who live near the tracks, Caltrain plans to reduce the volume of its locomotives' horns back to a level residents are accustomed to, a Caltrain spokesperson said Friday. She estimated the change will take two to three weeks to implement.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, July 31, 2009, 12:36 PM

Comments (14)

Posted by mid-lifer-crazy-guy, a resident of Castro City
on Jul 31, 2009 at 2:15 pm

thank goodness, its about time Caltrain be held accountable for all the ruccass


Posted by Gladys, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jul 31, 2009 at 2:22 pm

I'm glad to see we have a noise reduction of some type. Our neighborhood has become quite noisey. Tow trucks idling for 15 minutes or so at 7:30 on a Sunday morning has been the norm lately. The tow yard is backyard to the residents of Houghton St. Chain clanking, the endless beeping of trucks backing up (at 4 AM who would need alerting in the yard?) Not to mention the large trucks early Monday morning at the Portugese Center...whew...


Posted by George, a resident of Whisman Station
on Jul 31, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Anyone know how to check this for compliance?

7.2 How long does the horn have to sound?
All locomotives must sound the horn starting 15 to 20 seconds before reaching a public highway-rail grade crossing. However, in no case may the horn be sounded more than 1/4 mile before the crossing. (Section 222.21)
7.3 What are the minimum and maximum levels locomotive horns can be sounded at?
Train horn sound levels must range between a minimum of 96 dB(A) and a maximum of 110 dB(A) (inclusive) measured 100 feet in front of the locomotive and 15 feet above the rail. Prior to issuance of this rule, there was no maximum horn sound limit.


Posted by mirna solorzano, a resident of Cuesta Park
on Aug 1, 2009 at 3:49 am

It was about time, every night I could hear the midnight horn from cuesta park.


Posted by Arthur Siegel, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 2, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Thank you to everyone who complained to Caltrain. Hopefully this will bring the volume back to a reasonable level, at least to what it was before they increased the volume.


Posted by Brian, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2009 at 6:04 am

Seriously, I was talking to a friend in my car and all of a sudden I hear the train horn. I nearly jumped out of my seat. I was so pissed off.


Posted by k, a resident of Shoreline West
on Aug 3, 2009 at 8:45 am

I really don't think it's that bad to be honest. I live about two blocks from the tracks and have just learned to get used to it. I'd rather have slightly louder horns if it will save lives and keep Caltrain around...but I guess it will be good if they can come to a compromise with the community. It's nice that the Caltrain folks are so responsive to community feedback. :)


Posted by catherine, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 3, 2009 at 2:33 pm

I was used to the old horn level which never really bothered me. I live right across the street from the CalTrain station, and the new horn is loud. Even with all the double pane windows closed it is still loud enough for someone on the other end of my phone conversation to hear very distinctly.


Posted by Malcom, a resident of North Whisman
on Aug 3, 2009 at 3:23 pm

I am very concerned over the conflicting and inaccurate explanations being used by Caltrain for apparent excuses:

Originally the horn noise was blamed on moving the horn to the roof. it now transpires that was a little bit a of a half truth since the real reason was the horn did not work correctly with a longer pipe so the pressure was increased as a rather incompetent work around.

Secondly, Caltrain keeps parroting the 44 grade crossing it HAS to blow at. Has anyone actually noticed that Caltrain blows the horn entering and leaving Mountain View from the South? For what grade crossing might they misdirect blame on the government for? While the 44 grade crossing may be true, this appears to be a complete mis-direction of the facts.

Thirdly, in press statements they claim the horn must be sound 1/4 mile before all of these crossings. In a reality it is illegal to sound it MORE than 1/4 mile ahead. Sloppy grammar? It would be but this is just what Caltrain does.

I'm all for safety and proper horn noise but this safety program appears to be bungled by incompetence and half truths. It is clear that their spokes person is either hiding the truth, is misinformed or both. It is also clear that their engineers don't know the first thing about horns and the government mandated safety rules associated.



Posted by Lance, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 4, 2009 at 9:00 pm

Caltrain has nothing on the midnight freight train. You can't land planes at SJ, but you can run a freight train at 1 am.

I lived in a city that had quiet zones allowed by Federal rule...

Web Link

Mt. View should apply!


Posted by sleepless in MV, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2009 at 9:29 am

It really is about time Mountain View had a noise ordinance.


Posted by Target neighbor, a resident of another community
on Aug 6, 2009 at 9:40 am

The owners of Mountain View commercial property next to residences need to be more considerate in their scheduling of landscape maintenance work.

There's nothing like hedge trimmers, leaf blowers, and the occasional chain saw roaring a few yards from your bedroom window at 1am or 7am!


Posted by light sleeper, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 7, 2009 at 11:26 am

Thanks to the Voice for finally letting me know what was going on. Those trains have certainly seemed newly noisy the last couple of months. I've always wondered why they blow their horn for the Castro street crossing -- the incredible uproar of clanging bells and flashing lights already going on there should be enough to warn anyone. Ditto the Rengstorff crossing, I'd think.

By the way, it's not just commercial property owners that need to be more considerate of landscape maintenance scheduling...


Posted by New to the area, a resident of Old Mountain View
on Aug 11, 2009 at 10:32 am

I am a new homeowner in the MV downtown area. When I bought my place I thought the trains sounded rather charming - like an invitation to a beckoning adventure. NOW, the noise level of the train whistles actually hurts my ears - especially with the windows open on a warm evening. Double panes are not much protection either. Children within any close proximity to the train cover their ears and complain about the pain! Sleep patterns have been disrupted and productivity decreased. The personal health and well being of people living close by the tracks - for miles and miles in both directions - have been seriously impacted.

And isn't it interesting how so many people previously outside the noise range, but now effected by the increased level, have added their voices to demand the problem be corrected. For those of us who live close to the train, we welcome your raised voices and complaints and hope the problem is solved soon. It takes a village.


If you were a member and logged in you could track comments from this story.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

David's Tea: now open in downtown Palo Alto
By Elena Kadvany | 6 comments | 2,740 views

On Tour at Selective Schools: Chapman, La Verne, Redlands, Whittier
By John Raftrey and Lori McCormick | 0 comments | 1,540 views

The dress code
By Jessica T | 14 comments | 1,363 views

. . . People will never forget how you made them feel.
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 755 views

Camp Glamp
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 319 views