All Aboard Florida, Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), & Florida East Coast Railway are all under the Fortress Investment Group umbrella. Rusty Roberts, VP of Corporate Development at Florida East Coast Industries, quips the train horn is “the sound of money” at a Stuart town hall meeting where he is representing All Aboard Florida.
In Savannah: 24 Hours, 192 Horn Blasts
As rail shipments rise, public backlash forces costly steps to deal with noise, traffic jams, by Laura Stevens
Every day, as up to eight freight trains pass back and forth on the outskirts of historical downtown Savannah, Ga., they blow their horns at every single one of the 24 rail crossings along the three-mile stretch.
That is making the Genesee & Wyoming Inc. railroad anything but popular along tracks that, until four years ago, were essentially dormant.
Noble L. Boykin Jr., whose law firm is on East 38th Street, said he and other attorneys have to take “train breaks” during depositions. He has to step into a closet for phone calls. He also lives near the tracks, so he can’t escape them—even at 5 a.m. “Everybody hates it,” he said.
Railroads are facing a growing backlash—not just against dangerous oil trains, but against the noise, delays and traffic jams caused by rail’s rapid expansion and recent success. Rail shipments have increased by more than 6% in the past three years, but a bigger problem is that trains are getting longer, slower and—in many places—more frequent. At least one railroad now averages trains more than a mile long. And trains are federally mandated to honk at most street-level crossings for safety reasons.
Community resistance has historically been just a nuisance to railroads. The rails own their own right of way and operate under federal authority that typically supersedes local ordinances.
Lately, though, public pushback has gotten both serious and costly. It is forcing expensive improvements, interfering with expansion plans and curbing growth. In March, BNSF Railway Co. voluntarily slowed oil trains to 35 mph from 40 mph or higher near populated areas due to community safety concerns, effectively cutting capacity. Canadian National Railway Co. might be on the hook to pay $47 million for an underpass in Barrington, Ill.
CSX Corp. won a major legal victory in April allowing it, after six years, to finally start construction to expand its 110-year-old Virginia Avenue tunnel in Washington, D.C. That is critical to completing its $850 million “National Gateway” project so that it could double-stack containers from the Eastern Seaboard to the Midwest.
CSX adjusted its plans (and paid a little more—it won’t say how much) to mitigate noise and vibrations, speed construction, and keep the tunnel enclosed, said Louis Renjel, CSX vice president of strategic infrastructure initiatives. “You have a lot of people and businesses in the area, so you have a lot of concerns to work through,” Mr. Renjel said.
In the past, if communities didn’t like what railroads did, railroads did it anyway. Between October and December, Norfolk Southern Corp. received more than 180 traffic citations from the Elkhart County Sheriff’s Department for interfering with traffic in Dunlap, Ind. Trains blocked major intersections often daily, sometimes up to five hours, according to Capt. James Bradberry of the department. The tickets carried fines of up to $500 each.
So far this year, though, it’s gotten only a dozen tickets, said Mr. Bradberry. He added the railroad “is responding to our presence and working to mend it.” A Norfolk Southern spokesman said the railroad has invested in the area, including hiring 100 more crew members, to reduce the delays. It doesn’t like blocking roads either, he said, because it means freight isn’t moving.
The friction has grown as freight patterns have shifted. Oil trains that barely existed six years ago, are now a critical part of the energy boom. Container shipments grew 5% in 2014 to record levels as consumer goods shifted to rail.
Read the rest of the story online:
With all of the recent complaints and news about train noise, one resident measured the noise.
Attached is the video I made on Saturday using and EXtech Class 2 sound meter. This is OSHA approved meter. It indicates that standing on my property about 25-30 feet from the newer train engines as they pass, the horn noise reached 177 decibels. As it got a little further away, 145 decibels. The important thing to understand is that when FRA or even All Aboard talks specifically about train horn noise, they are required by regulation to test it in a certain way. The regulations are as attached.
They test only in front of the train, 100 feet, at a point 15 feet above the railing using a slow response setting on the meter and using a continuous 10 second blast of the horn. I will not be able to duplicate that without cooperation. So when they talk about a reading of 103 decibels, realize that even if they did it right and are telling the truth, it does not mean that the maximum noise made by the train horn is only 103 decibels. That is equivalent to a chain saw running at full power. You cannot hear a chain saw more than a mile away inside your house. But you can hear the train horn, at least on these newer train horns. But in the “real world “, on my property, we hear about 90 decibels from the train itself , consistent with published levels for a subway train passing , and over 177 decibels from the horn.
Many people have been complaining about the use of trains horns. We thought we would share the the FRA regulations in regards to the use of train horns. If these rules are not followed, please comment to:
FRA Region 3 Contact
61 Forsyth Street, SW
Atlanta, GA 30303-3104
Hot Line: 1-800-724-5993
The Use of Locomotive Horns
Under the Train Horn Rule (49 CFR Part 222), locomotive engineers must begin to sound train horns at least 15 seconds, and no more than 20 seconds, in advance of all public grade crossings.
If a train is traveling faster than 60 mph, engineers will not sound the horn until it is within ¼ mile of the crossing, even if the advance warning is less than 15 seconds.
There is a “good faith” exception for locations where engineers can’t precisely estimate their arrival at a crossing and begin to sound the horn no more than 25 seconds before arriving at the crossing.
Train horns must be sounded in a standardized pattern of 2 long, 1 short and 1 long blast. The pattern must be repeated or prolonged until the lead locomotive or lead cab car occupies the grade crossing. The rule does not stipulate the durations of long and short blasts.
The maximum volume level for the train horn is 110 decibels which is a new requirement. The minimum sound level remains 96 decibels.
If you’ve noticed an increase in train noise — you’re not alone. In fact, there have been so many complaints recently, that the Federal Railroad Administration is looking into the situation. Let’s see what if anything comes from the complaints.
Written by: John Dzenitis
From Indian River County to West Palm Beach, residents have been complaining about excessively loud freight train horns late at night and early in the morning over the past month.
“I never remember [horns] sounding this loud,” Stuart-resident Robert Brands said. “I live a mile away and they’re waking me up. It’s just excessive, about four in the morning, long horn blows, one after another.”
The trains belong to Florida East Coast Railway, which is owned by the same parent company developing All Aboard Florida, a controversial high-speed train proposed to run from Orlando to Miami.
“It’s very interesting because the complaints I have coming in are from the counties that have complained the most about All Aboard Florida,” Florida NOT All Aboard director K.C. Traylor said. “Indian River County, Saint Lucie County, North Palm Beach County, Martin County.”
One of the selling points of All Aboard Florida is establishing quiet zones, which would eliminate the requirement for freight trains to use their horns. Traylor said residents are starting to question if the train horns are intentionally louder.
“It’s people who have lived around these tracks for years and years and years, so what is the difference now?” Traylor said. “The train horns are excessive and they’re louder than people have ever remembered them especially during the night.”
Red the story online: