Train horns still an issue in Hamburg quiet zones

HAMBURG, N.Y. (WIVB) – Several Hamburg neighborhoods were filled with the sounds of train horns both day and night for decades. Now, things are a bit quieter.

Judy McLaughlin who lives near a crossing, said, “It was awful. I mean, in the summer you couldn’t even sit outside, you couldn’t even have a party the trains were so loud. The kids would run to me with their ears covered.”

A quiet zone in her neighborhood has made a difference.

“It’s a lot different now, you just hear the engines and none of those whistles that are so obnoxious.”

In order to stop the train horns, the town had to construct traffic barriers and get federal approval. The quiet zone then went into effect June 24, barring trains from sounding their horns as they pass in certain neighborhoods.

But even a month later it’s still not a horn-free zone.

Gerard Kapsiak, the town engineer, said that out of the 100 trains that go through town every day, he gets complaints about two or three of them. He calls it a learning curve.

“It takes time to get the notices out to the train crews and abide by the notices. There are signs that are along the tracks to alert the train crews it is a quiet zone; it’s possible sometimes they don’t see the signs,” he explained.

He also says there are some exceptions.

“They are required to blow the horn still if they do see someone walking along the track or crossing the tracks or there’s a dirt biker running along the tracks, they still have to sound the horn,” he said.

If residents hear a horn sound they can call the railroad directly to complain.

CSX Transportation: 1-800-835-5279

Norfolk Southern Railroad: 1-800-453-2530

Buffalo Southern Railroad: 716-992-4979

Federal Railroad Administration: 1-800-724-5991

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