Aurora Citizen

News & Views from the Citizens of Aurora Ontario

Discussion: Train Whistle

Posted by auroracitizen on November 25, 2008

Seems to be various points both for and against train whistles here in Aurora. The recent poll indicated that 90% of respondents were against banning train whistles.

However there was also a very good letter in the recent Banner. It made the point that possibly a compromise was the better solution. On its surface it seemed like a very sensible proposal. Certainly worth investigation.

What are your thoughts?

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8 Responses to “Discussion: Train Whistle”

  1. doug said

    We live 300′ from the rail road tracks here in East Ky and there is a near constant flow of rail traffic passing each day and night. Each train blows it’s whistle long and hard as they pass. At times the noise is so loud it actually hurts my ears. It’s easy for one who doesn’t live near a rail road to say “if you don’t like it, move”. This simply isn’t an option for many of us. I’m glad the trains blow their whistles at crossings, but the present volume is over kill. This noise pollution is causing hearing loss, gradual but sure, for thousands of people, especially children. Some cities, I understand, have remotely operated horns that are mounted at the crossings. They blow as a train approaches automatically, at a much reduced volume. This seems to be a much better way to warn citizens of a train approaching.

    • Robert the Bruce said

      Okay Doug.

      100 yards is close, but I have to ask – who was there first? The rail line or you? If the train is sounding the horn, they must be approaching a level crossing or some other area that requires it be sounded. I seriously doubt that you are getting any hearing loss from this situation – you are not close enough or is the duration long enough to cause that sort of damage. How is a remotely operated horn at a crossing any different than the lights and bells already at a level crossing?


  2. Razie said

    Walt – thanks for the link. I say the whistle, from 5m away, is more than 120db, since that’s where jackhammers and leaf blowers are listed. AND implies immediate damage.

    Sorry for what you had to witness. Agree on usefulness of whistles. I had an issue only with the use of the same level in a place where there’s ALWAYS tens of people within meters of the thing, given the design of this particular station.

    If they used an escalating tone I may have time to cover ears…but they don’t.

  3. Walt said


    All you need to know about noise induced hearing loss:

    Train whistles are in the 90 to 100 dB range. In other words, you’d need about 15 minutes continuous exposure to the whistle before to risk hearing loss.

    Yeah, I’m sure those train whistle thingies are dangerous. Gosh knows, people have only been using them for what, 150 years or something.

    If you don’t like the loud noise: move. Or cover your ears.

    who witnessed the accident at Engelhard that killed that mother/daughter pair a few years back. That’s all I’ll ever need to know about whether train whistles are a good idea or not.

  4. Razie said

    I do wonder why the trains have to use the extremely loud whistles and for long duration, at crossings with barriers? After all, idiots should be darwninanly selected for extinction…

    I do not have an issue with loud whistles outside populated areas. I do take a big issue with using the same loud whistles in the train station in Aurora, with tens of people very close to the whistle. I do not know the exact numbers but I can assure you the levels are not healthy and as we know, hearing damage is irreversible and compounds over time.

  5. Robert the Bruce said

    I received this news item in an email on November 26th around 11:00pm.

    “Lakeshore West Go Train service has been suspended until further notice after a pedestrian fatality on the tracks at Lakeshore and Parkside. Police are currently reviewing the train’s camera to determine the circumstances.”

    I wonder if a whistle or lack of a whistle was a factor?

  6. Robert the Bruce said

    I read the letter about the compromise. I personally don’t think it is possible. Train locomotives do not have a volume control. Your car’s horn does not have a volume control either. They are loud for a reason. The sequence of the blasts has a meaning too (before a road crossing, they blast 2 longs, a short and then a long as the locomotive travels through the crossing). You are not going to get CN to change the horns on locomotives that travel to Aurora so that their horn is a lower volume.

    I think that we hae spun this issue around way too many times. There comes a time when the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few. In this case, the many is the general public – residents of Aurora or not. Those are the people that are driving their cars or walking and approach level rail crossing. The few are those residents that have purchased homes within earshot of rail lines without realizing the proximity to it. The need is quite simple, it’s safety. It is also the law. It seems that we are spending – and will spend more – money to research this issue and in my mind, the only benefit will be a quieter neighbourhood for a few people. The potential downside is death, dismemberment and pain.

    I applaude the suggestion of compromise, but the reality is, it is not a real solution.

  7. Anonymous said

    Discussion: Suburbs suck

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