Caltrain says whistle volume back to normal


About a month after local residents started complaining about the increased volume of Caltrain horns, the rail agency announced it has lowered the volume of the whistles on all trains to their previous decibel levels.

A spokesperson announced Tuesday that the project to install regulator valves on the horns of all its trains has been completed.

However, Caltrain warned, that doesn't mean those close to the tracks won't still notice a difference between the sound the horns made when they were underneath the trains and the sound they make now. That's because the horns are now on the top of the trains, so the sound will be dispersed over a wider area.

And due to federal regulations, engineers will blow several sequential blasts, instead of the continuous one people are used to hearing.

The volume increase came when Caltrain moved all the horns from the underside to the top of its locomotives and cabs, in order to comply with federal regulations that require a particular sequence of sounds be produced. Caltrain is trying to figure out a way to return the horns to their previous position underneath the train, while still allowing them to produce the proper sound, according to the spokesperson.

Engineers are required to sound the horn a quarter-mile before each grade crossing, where a street crosses the tracks, or if they see someone on the tracks, according to the spokesperson.

— The Almanac


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Posted by Sleepyncranky
a resident of Waverly Park
on Sep 2, 2009 at 8:52 am

Now I heard the horns at 2 a.m.! Caltrain doesn't run then. What train is running through and blasting horns at that ungodly hour?

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Posted by David
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2009 at 2:23 pm

There are 1 or 2 freight trains every night.

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Posted by AC
a resident of another community
on Sep 2, 2009 at 5:02 pm

AC is a registered user.

And freight train horns are *really* loud...

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Posted by AlsoCranky
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 2, 2009 at 5:15 pm

The horns have to be back underneath the train. I fail to understand why moving the horn onto the top of the train is supposed to produce a different sound satisfying the federal requirement of particular sequence of sounds. Why was that change not possible with old location underneath? Why is it necessary to know that the train is pulling into the station when I am peacefully eating my pizza at D'Amicis or walk at Shoreline Park?

I also fail to understand why the train now honks at least 4 times when it pulls into the station northbound or pulls out of the station southbound? It is especially annoying at 4:46 am. How come that after all these changes (location of horns, regulators, etc.), expenses, sleep interruptions, a consultant is hired? Did Caltrain really think, the new horn policy would just be ok?

If anybody has trouble understanding what all these complaints are about or still thinks it's cute that they can hear the train all over town, they are welcome to try to get a good night's sleep in my guest room. It seems very possible in the rest of the world to run trains without such an eardrum damaging intrusion.

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Posted by Crankier than Crankster
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 2, 2009 at 6:39 pm

I agree that the train whistles need to be reduced in volume. I don't care where they put them on the engines/cab forward car but they will need to be reduced. I would like someone to respond with their thoughts on how to make this happen. For example, do we need to organize a group of residents to attend a Caltrain Public Meeting to voice our displeasure.

Sadly, I think the uderlying motive for the louder whistles is an attempt to reduce the suicides we've sadly experienced lately. Unfortunately, if my theory is correct, raising their volume to prevent suicides is another example of how Caltrain's management is incompetent: a person so mentally ill as to want to take their life will not be discouraged by the loudness of the train. Sad, sad, sad.

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Posted by liz siegel
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Sep 11, 2009 at 2:52 pm

the trains are still toooooo loud and they don't have a consistent pattern of hoots and more than 60 years of living near the caltrain tracks i never thought about calling caltrain to complain about the is hard enough to live in old mountain view with all the noise polution from central exp., highway 85, and el camino and now we add the train horns to all of that...i could see how people might not want to live in or buy houses in our neighborhood. i'm also disappointed that our city council doesn't care about the quality of life of the people in mountain view whether it is noise pollution or too much congestion caused by too much density...maybe we do need to all attend a caltrain meeting to express our opinions

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