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July 29, 2009



Yes, this is a horrible situation and all my neighbors are noticing it. We live a few blocks from the tracks. The horn is waking us at all hours, preventing normal conversation outside, scaring children, making homes even more difficult to sell . . .Caltrain claims they are looking into options but can't do anything in the interim because of federal regulations.

Holy Roller

Instead of reducing the sound level of the horn. Lets endorse Darwin's Principal. Turn the horn off completely.
I know it this is a harsh thought.
But the theory should be given some thought.

Pavlov's dog

Holy Roller, that's exactly the way Caltrains wants you to think.

When SFO wanted to build a third runway in the bay five years ago, the amount of departure delays increased exponentially.

Now that Caltrains wants the peninsula to give in to high speed rail, the noise caused by the trains has increased exponentially.

You don't like the noise? Agree to elevated railways and the noise goes away. That's the carrot and the stick.


Good news!! The CalTrain horns may still sound like someone is torturing some poor animal, but the horns will quieter. Here's part of today's announcement:

Volume of Caltrain Horns To Be Lowered

Caltrain has begun installing regulator valves that will allow a dramatic reduction in the level of noise produced by its horns. The valves are adjustable and will allow the volume of the horns to be fine-tuned. The volume will be returned to the previous level of 98 decibels, which is at the low end of the range set by federal law.

Although crews will work on the project through the weekend it is expected to take several weeks to install the valves on all of Caltrain's 29 locomotives and 34 cab cars.


This isn't getting any better. It is just horrible. How long can it take to turn down the noise!


James W. Kelly from San Bruno writes in a letter to the Daily Journal today:

"In the uproar over blaring horns along the Peninsula, I'm curious why there's no mention of a technology that could offer relief. It's called the "wayside horn." This technology adds a sensor-activated horn at each grade crossing as a back-up for the lights, bells and barriers."

He goes on to note that the decibel level is lower, studies show the wayside horns enhance safety and that the old horns would still be on the trains for other uses.

Good question.


Despite recent efforts to soften Caltrain horn noise, Burlingame and San Mateo residents say little has changed and the racket is still disrupting their lives.

At the request of the San Mateo County Times, two residents, one from Burlingame and one from San Mateo, provided a newsroom phone number to their neighbors to call in case they were still irate over the horn noise and wanted to vent. The ensuing response was overwhelming: dozens of calls from furious neighbors through a two-day period.


Not much news last night from Mark Simon. They're working really hard with not enough skilled people on a few old horns. And some engineers like to blow their horns more than others. We'll get back to you.


Q: With all the noise of the train horns why doesn't the city work to establish a quiet zone for the four mile stretch of tracks in Burlingame?
A: Staff has consulted several agencies to learn about the quiet zones. No City in the Peninsula Corridor currently has established a quiet zone. Based on our discussions with several agencies and Caltrain, the local agency (the City) would have to pay for engineering studies, design and construction of improvements needed to establish the quiet zone. Recent feasibility study in Berkeley showed that it would cost $4.3 million to $8.9 million for making improvements at six crossings. The minimum length of the quiet zone has to be at least half a mile. In addition, the City could be assuming liability for any train accident that may occur within the quiet zone.


These loud horns are just a ploy to get the majority of locals to go for high speed rail. I'm at the point where I give up, build whatever crap you want. Between these horns and the new ambulance sirens I'm considering moving to Montana where the loudest thing is moose and squirrel.


All these comments are from 2009.... the problem is STILL as bad in 2012!!! Worst part is there is NO consistency in how or when the horns blow... 2AM, 4PM, blare-blare-blare, blaaaaaaaarrrrreeeee..... Buddy of mine works for a fire dept on the east coast, says they call their loudest horn a "soul shaker".... the Burlingame train horn is like a "sould-in-hell shaker." Joy.


Told Asseblyman Hill that everytime that horn blows it sounds his name..."Hillllll, Hilllllll...." He said he's done what he can...

Hmmm. Let's try the new candidate. Jerry's tired.

pat giorni

One reason the horns continue to sound is because Caltrain switched from Amtrak to TAZI as RR operator. From the CEMOF minutes:

Rail Contract Operator Transition
Ms. Bouchard said staff is qualifying 10 experienced engineers from other properties brought over with the new operator during non-revenue hours on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday evenings on the Caltrain corridor. This training is operating like any revenue trip and the engineers will be operating with horns and making all stops. Out of a total 51 Amtrak engineers, 34 are coming over with the new operator. The new service launch is May 23.


I agree with James. Now what does a new operator have to do with the same old too loud horns?

pat giorni

I merely offered up "the Caltrain excuse"...debate it with the railroad with cards and letters to Mark Simon Betcha get the same answer!

pat giorni

[email protected]

Timothy Hooker

I work out at the high school daily at 5:30am and 5:30pm and the train noise for the past years is excessive to say the least.

The trains at times maybe 20% show caution and blow a softer horn but 80% of the time they blow the horn 100 decibels loud all the way through Burlingame (non-stop) even if they are traveling 5-10 miles per hour. (Checked with a noise meter on my smartphone)

The big question is: who are they blowing the horn for at that speed if the crossings have blaring bells and the lights are flashing for the entire intersection to see?

Even if a blind person or deaf person was crossing, they would have no problems figuring out the train was approaching.

The horns can be heard from nearly 3 miles to 5 miles away. That is excessive and abusive to the community. Frankly, we should not tolerate it anymore and standup for our rights to have a livable community. Since I am on a roll; along with the bumper to bumper traffic causing noise and pollution in Downtown caused by this city's obsessive need to have two Farmers Markets blocking the main cross-artery to get through Burlingame Downtown..it has become a much less peaceful community then when I first moved here.

From an environmental standpoint; the train pollution is killing all of the trees along the train tracks and around Burlingame High School. Trees are thinner and less full. That is a fact I noticed over the years. Don't believe me; come out at 5:30am in the morning and just smell the toxic pollution from 5:20am to 9:00pm when the trains stop.

I spoke with the Cal Train person and they said awhile back they are converting horns to a more flutter type of horns. SO far after a year I have not seen any change.

Fact is: Noise Control Act of 1972 is still in effect, but it is not being enforced.

Another fact is: the train noise is a health risk to the community.

This isn't an option: it is our right and we need to force them to turn down their horns.

Thanks for listening

Timothy Hooker

Today 5:53am. Train blew their horn 23 times coming through Burlingame Ave crossing. The horns are not being managed. Now we go to the next step and request a Judge appointed committee or person to monitor the horns.

You have to have horns but what right do they have blowing a horn 23 times through one block stretch of Burlingame tracks? Am I missing something?

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