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Caltrain Noise is Getting Worse?

Original post made by kwul, Rex Manor, on Dec 4, 2014

I completely understand the need for the train horns and safety. However, in the last few months it seems like it is getting WORSE; the train engineers are blowing the horns way beyond the Federal regulation of two longs, one short and one long blast (- - ยท -) on the horn a quarter mile before entering a grade crossing. It is especially disruptive in the early hours of the morning from 5:00AM to 8:00AM.

We don't live right next to the train tracks but are in the Rex Manor neighborhood nearby. Is it just us, or are others hearing the same thing?

Some thoughts on how to address the excessive noise:

Web Link

Comments (8)

19 people like this
Posted by Sleepless
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Dec 5, 2014 at 11:50 am

The CPUC which governs all train crossings in the state does have a process which allows communities to establish Quiet Zones which removes the need to blow the horn at all.

As train frequency goes up and more people live close to the transit corridor it seems like a sensible adjustment to make to improve the quality of life of tens of thousands of residents.

This may be possible, particularly after the safety upgrades are completed?
Some details here, be interested if anyone from Caltrain can tell us more..

Web Link


14 people like this
Posted by Arthur
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Jan 21, 2015 at 4:36 pm

I agree completely with your comments. I have heard trains blowing its horn sometimes 15 times or more.
Is this for safety or just being obnoxious?
It is so inconsiderate of the people living near the tracks. I live 3 blocks from the tracks; I can't imagine living alongside the tracks where Mountain View is encouraging apartment building to take place.


11 people like this
Posted by John
a resident of Old Mountain View
on Mar 4, 2015 at 10:20 pm

Completely agree. It's getting worse recently.


8 people like this
Posted by True
a resident of Blossom Valley
on Mar 6, 2015 at 6:24 pm

I'm sure that those who have recently lost loved ones in car/train pedestrian/train accidents sympathize with you on being "annoyed" by train whistles.


9 people like this
Posted by Jim
a resident of Rengstorff Park
on Apr 13, 2015 at 4:12 pm

@True I sympathize with and for those who have lost loved ones to the train but those the train horns did not (and would not) have prevented those accidents; the cause for those accidents are due in part to other issues to be addressed.


5 people like this
Posted by Data
a resident of Rex Manor
on Mar 21, 2016 at 7:10 am

Interesting comments/data from a discussion about the noise in Palo Alto:

The rail was built & opened for service in the 1860's.

This data might be a little old Caltrain reports an average of 14 deaths per year -- 90% of which are ruled suicides. That leaves 10% -- or 1.4 deaths -- per year which are assumed to be accidental (any death that can't be ruled a suicide is assumed to be accidental ... but some of these are possibly suicides which cannot be proven so).

There are 40 at-grade crossings remaining on the SF-SJ line, and eliminating them will only eliminate accidents at grade-crossings ... it will do nothing to cut suicides or accidents along the numerous parts of the tracks which are easily accessible in areas where there is no fencing, or where the fencing has holes or at stations.

While daytime train frequencies were increased substantially in the 2000's, train frequency, particularly at night, has not been materially increased in the last 10 years since the bullet express trains were introduced.

In the US, the Federal Railroad Administration's fetish with mandated horn blowing and decibel levels is assumed to be necessary for safety. Countries with lots more trains than the US don't seem to suffer such regulations and yet there is no carnage at their grade crossings. Indeed, if trains must (redundant to crossing arms and bells and flashing lights) be made to blow horns approaching every grade crossing, they why not have cars and trucks blow horns as they prepare to cross every intersection at a green light? It's the same insane thing!


3 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 23, 2016 at 9:36 pm

People do not get killed by trains "accidentally". Either they run in front of the train on purpose or they actively pull onto the tracks on purpose when they aren't paying attention and can't get across. Neither of these cases is prevented by trains blasting their horns.

With crossings protected by visual and audio signals, the train audio is pointless and redundant.


3 people like this
Posted by Me
a resident of Willowgate
on Mar 23, 2016 at 9:36 pm

People do not get killed by trains "accidentally". Either they run in front of the train on purpose or they actively pull onto the tracks on purpose when they aren't paying attention and can't get across. Neither of these cases is prevented by trains blasting their horns.

With crossings protected by visual and audio signals, the train audio is pointless and redundant.


Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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