Train noise pollution

By Don Keene | Mar 29, 2013


Several weeks ago my friend visited Edmonds for the first time. We were in downtown Edmonds when a train rolled through town, blasting its horn. My friend was shocked at the painful intensity of the blasts.

He asked if Edmonds realized what a negative impression the trains’ noise must have on visitors and residents. When I mentioned the uproar about more coal trains in the future, my friend just shook his head and asked why we don’t take care of the immediate and obvious problem right before us. He suggested I spend some time on the Internet to see how other cities have quieted their train crossings.

Since 90 percent of train noise comes from the trains’ horns, many cities have installed railroad quiet zones in cooperation with the railroads.

The basic idea is that the city installs appropriate safety features and warning devices at the crossings so that the trains don’t need to blow their horns.

The Federal Railroad Administration has an entire website devoted to how a community can qualify as a railroad quiet zone. The Internet has dozens of city studies leading up to a quiet zone. See for yourself, just Google the words Railroad Quiet Zone Study.

Qualifying for a railroad quiet zone would take some time and effort on the part of the city but the good people of Edmonds might be willing to approve an expenditure that has such a noticeable and pleasing environmental benefit.

Can you imagine what a positive difference a railroad quiet zone would make for Edmonds’ citizens, businesses and visitors? Count me in.


Don Keene


Comments (1)
Posted by: Nathaniel R Brown | Mar 30, 2013 10:51

I live just over a mile north of the ferry crossing, on the bluff over the tracks on Olympic View Drive.  There are no railroad crossings in the area, and no beach access at all. (Thought I'm old enough to remember the days before the railroad essentially laid claim to our beaches and fenced us out... )

Last night I had a group of friends over for music and dinner.  The music was drowned out at one point by an extremely long, pronounced blast from a passing train - maybe 30 seconds.  Impossible to hear the music inside my house, though it was playing fairly loudly, and we have double-paned windows.

Is this really necessary?  It is certainly frequent.

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