Silencing train horns (especially during the wee hours of the morning) would be a welcomed reprieve from the midnight to 6 a.m. train horn warnings that are common in Baxter and Brainerd. When one is in a deep REM sleep it often sounds as though the train is speeding through one’s own bedroom.
According to Baxter’s Public Works Director Trevor Walter the cost of a feasibility study of silencing the train horns in Baxter (and Brainerd) would run about $15,000.
BNSF Railway said both cities would have to adopt the policy.
Before everyone living along the BNSF corridor gets too excited about having their night sleep go uninterrupted by blasts from inbound and outbound coal trains the cost of implementing such a program could reach $5 million. That’s according to Baxter Councilman Rob Moser who received his information from other cities that have implemented the silent crossings program.
Moorhead and Little Falls have implemented a silent crossing policy.
Why does federal law require trains to sound a booming horn warning before each crossing? Safety.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) its hazard elimination program — flashing crossing lights, arms that are lowered prior to a train entering a crossing and locomotives sounding several blasts from an on-board horn — has saved more than 10,500 lives and prevented 51,000 injuries since it began in 1974. “However,” the FRA stated in a report studying its three safety measures, “the relative cost-effectiveness of the train horn has not been established.”
FRA cites a 1995 nationwide study it conducted that suggests that silencing train horns increases crash risks by 84.4 percent. In Florida, East Coast Railway found that crashes at crossings with flashing lights and gates tripled when train horns were banned.
I wonder what percentage of those crashes occurred between midnight and 6 a.m.?
Perhaps a total silencing of the train horns is not advisable. Perhaps limiting the use of horns from midnight to 6 a.m. (when traffic is generally lower in volume) and allowing train horn usage from 6:01 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. Just a thought.