Train Horn Regulations



Trains have sounded horns or whistles as they approach crossings as a safety measure for more than a century. In the 1980's, Florida imposed a horn ban and the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) noted a significant increase in grade crossing accidents. As a result, over the years, the FRA and Congress have developed rules requiring that trains sound their horn at all grade crossings nationwide, and specifying the volume, length and pattern of the sound.

Quiet Zone Established for Rodenburg Rd. Crossing

The quiet zone for the Rodebnurg Rd. railroad crossing officially went live on September 12, 2016.  As part of the establishment of the quiet zone, traffic channelization devices (vertical tubes that prevent vehicles from driving around lowered gates) were installed along the middle of Rodenburg Rd. on both the north and south sides of the crossing. Horns within the quiet zone may still be used in the case of an emergency and to comply with federal or other railroad regulations.

Train horn quiet zone studies were conducted on the railroad crossings in Roselle at Rodenburg Rd., Roselle Rd., Prospect St., and Park St. in 2014. The Village Board agreed to pursue a quiet zone at the Rodenburg Rd. crossing in 2015, based largely on potential costs and necessary restrictions. Further evaluations will continue at the remaining crossings. A copy of the feasibility study done in 2014 is available here for download (PDF).

Partial Quiet Zones in Roselle

In 2005, the FRA also established rules whereby a community could establish a quiet zone, which is a section of a rail line where alternative safety measures have been put in place waiving the requirement that trains must blow their horns when approaching grade crossings. The FRA takes the position that quiet zones, by their very nature, have the potential to increase the risk of train accidents by removing the use of the horn, which is considered a safety measure.

These procedures also recognized that some communities established a quiet zone prior to the new rules being implemented otherwise known as a "partial quiet zone" or "pre-rule quiet zone". Roselle has a partial quiet zone that covers the crossings at Roselle Rd., Prospect St., and Park St. However, the quiet zone only applies between the hours of midnight to 5:00 a.m. Outside of the midnight to 5:00 a.m. hours, train horns are sounded at Roselle Rd., Prospect St., and Park St. No quiet zone prevents the use of horns at any time that the engineer believes a safety concern exists (such as cars or pedestrians on or near the tracks).

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, which includes some trains traveling through Roselle, the engineer sounds the horn within ┬╝ mile of the crossing. Train horns must be sounded in a pattern of 2 long, 1 short and 1 long blasts. Federal Law does not stipulate the duration of the blasts. By requirement, the maximum volume level for the train horn is 110 decibels and the minimum sound level is 96 decibels. These rules apply to the grade crossings in Roselle at Roselle Rd., Prospect St, and Park St.