Colorado Legislators Call on New FRA Administrator to Update Train Horn Rule

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Washington, D.C., March 8, 2018 | comments

Washington, D.C. - U.S. Representatives Jared Polis, Ed Perlmutter, Ken Buck, and U.S. Senator Michael Bennet wasted no time in asking Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Administrator Ronald Batory to update the Train Horn Rule after his confirmation on Feb. 13. Train horns create a persistent nuisance to residents and stifle economic development for businesses throughout Northern Colorado.  The legislators authored a letter urging Administrator Batory to modernize the rule in a way that ensures public safety, costs less money, and is more feasible for Colorado communities.

"Fort Collins, Loveland, and all of Northern Colorado are known as wonderful areas to reside, but in our downtown areas the train horn noise is often unbearable.  After years and years of advocating for relief for Northern Coloradans who suffer through constant blaring train horns - the FRA finally formally listened to us.  Now it’s time for them to take action, and change the Train Horn Rule.  We are seeking flexibility from the Train Horn Rule and Quiet Zone regulations while maintaining necessary safety standards.  The most recent GAO study proves it’s possible,” said Polis. 

“My constituents and communities face train noise issues every day of the year,” said Perlmutter. “It’s past time we revise the 2005 train horn rule to reduce the burden on local communities and ensure a clear path toward establishing quiet zones so we can improve safety at railway crossings and reduce train horn noise across the country.” 

“By working together, we can find a solution to train horn noise that allows Colorado families to live in peaceful communities while still keeping our railroad crossings safe,” said Buck.

“Train horns have disturbed too many Colorado communities for far too long,” Bennet said. “For years, Colorado’s congressional delegation has worked together to make some commonsense adjustments to the Train Horn Rule. We worked successfully with the previous administration to re-open the rule, and hope that the new FRA Administrator will finish the job and update the rule in a way that is more flexible and cost-effective for our communities.”

The group’s calls for a change to the Train Horn Rule have resulted in the following actions:
•         March 2016: FRA released a Notice of Safety Inquiry seeking feedback on the Train Horn Rule. The notice generated over 300 comments with over two-thirds originating in Colorado.
•         June 2016: Then FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg visited Colorado with members of the delegation and municipal and community advocates to discuss the Train Horn Rule.
•         October 2017: Government Accountability Office (GAO) released the results of a congressionally-mandated study on railroad Quiet Zones. The report found that establishing Quiet Zones is costly, burdensome, and lacks guidance from the FRA.  

Today’s letter to Batory reads, in part:

“The current [Train Horn] rule is outdated and does not take into account technological advancements or the unique situations communities in Colorado and across the country have with diverse railway crossings [….] Although the Train Horn Rule allows for the creation of Quiet Zones, where locomotives do not need to sound their horns when approaching public highway-rail grade crossings, there is very little flexibility. Implementing new Quiet Zone upgrades pursuant to the guidelines is cost prohibitive to cities and towns in many locations. For instance, Quiet Zone upgrades would cost Fort Collins, Colorado an estimated $8 million.”

Read the entire letter here.


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