Why do trains need to blare their horns a hundred times at 3AM?

Is it because whoever is out partying on the tracks at 3AM won't hear the eardrum shattering horn the first twenty times they blare it? I live two miles away from train tracks and can't imagine the people who live right next to them how do they sleep?

Best Answer:

Al: Because the FRA tells us we have to. You can blame the people that feel the need to ignore railroad crossings. Believe me when I tell you we don't like having to sound the horn. If you think it's bad hearing it from a mile away imagine having to hear it while sitting right next to it. We pray for the day when we only have to sound it in emergencies.

Too many people ignored rail crossings or would try to beat the trains so now we have to sound it at every crossings. If you're looking for someone to blame it is not us, it's your fellow non railroaders.

Other answer:

The problem is unlikely to go away in the near future. Unfortunately, the USA is blessed with the largest number of grade/level crossings in urban areas than any other country. In the UK, for example, when they are built, railways have to provide over- or under-bridges when crossing all but the most minor roads. The highway authorities have to provide such bridges where new roads cross an existing railway.

Where road traffic subsequently increases beyond a certain level on existing grade crossings, they have to be converted to full-barrier CCTV remote control, or replaced by an over- or under-bridge. Because railway lines are continually fenced there is no requirement for trains to sound their horns on approach. This is only necessary at designated 'whistle boards', usually sited at unguarded foot-crossings and – even then – only during certain hours of the day.

Maestro Sartori:
In the US, 99 times out of 100 the track was there before the road. Railroads have came down on their engineers in the recent past on more adamant whistle blowing because all of the crossing accidents. I work for the railroad myself and I have seen some absolutely stupid borderline insane scenarios from motorists, especially at bar closing time. Just a few months ago I was leaving my home terminal on the west bound main. We go through an urban college downtown area.. There is two drunk idiots straddling the east bound main in their brand new daddy's boy 4×4 Tacoma. That is, they decided to get on the track at a crossing and drive on the railroad track. We heard an opposing train approaching in the distance and just happened to make radio communication in time with them enough before they demolished and killed two drunken idiots. So really, you can blame idiots for the current train whistle situation in America. Is not going away anytime soon.
It is because whomever is out driving at 3 a.m. won't be watching for red lights (because they don't expect anyone else to be out that late) and will be blaring their car radio loud, so they won't hear the train until it's really close to them.

Someone living near the tracks could get earplugs or lots of other solutions.

Rona Lachat:
Hundred times REALLY. Wear one ear plug and go back to bed.

It is much louder inside the train for the operator. They do not enjoy the noise either and DO NOT make it anymore than necessary.


Are you sure it is a train?

It is the law to sound the horn so many times and for certain length of time before crossing certain types of intersections.
For train, trains cross many of railroad track where cars cross over and they have to honk to warn drivers and pedestrian not to cross in front of train.

For lightrail, lightrail is quiet, but they honk to warn car drivers and pedestrian crossing lightrail track.

For subways like NYC, they honk to warn passengers when subways are deadheading or skipping station. It also alerts transit employees as well.

Scott H:
It's federal law.
because they need everybody to know they are coming🌅🌃🌄🚊
Mario Antonio:
They need to put warning!