The city of Saint John, New Brunswick is moving closer to banning train horns at two crossings in the city.
|Map of the area,|
courtesy of Google Maps
Residents have been complaining about the noise from the train horns, especially at night.
The article says the railway, NB Southern, is not in favour of removing this protection but will abide by the province's risk assessment, provided the city assumes liability for any accidents or injury caused by the ban on train horns.
This raises a bigger question - are train horns obsolete? Is there any point to blowing the horn for a crossing any more?
"Quiet zones" or "whistle bans" have popped up all over the continent. Here in Winnipeg, most of the city seems to be a quiet zone with horns only being sounded on the periphery of the city or during emergencies. Some people also question the efficacy of train horns with car drivers listening to music or talk radio at high volumes with rolled-up windows.
A TSB accident investigation delved into the effectiveness of locomotive horns. Larger vehicles such as trucks or buses make a lot of ambient noise and their drivers have trouble hearing train horns. This study indicated that only 14% of vehicle drivers involved in vehicle-train accidents heard the train's horn when the horn was sounded prior to impact.
Horn placement on the locomotive has an effect. A study indicated that mid-engine horns are less effective than horns on the nose. However, horns on the nose affect the crew's hearing more, so there is definitely a trade-off.
One alternative is a wayside horn, where the horn is physically located at the crossing and automatically sounds as a train approaches. These can be 10-12 dB quieter than locomotive horns (better for nearby residents) and have been shown to be at least as effective as train horns. However, there is an increased cost, of course, as every crossing has to have a system installed.
What's your thoughts on the train horn? Is it obsolete?