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Caltrain says whistle volume back to normal

Original post made on Sep 2, 2009

Over a month after local residents started complaining about the greatly increased volume of Caltrain horns, the rail agency has lowered the volume of the whistles on all the trains back to their pre-increase decibel levels.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, September 1, 2009, 10:35 AM

Comments (18)

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Posted by KJI
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 2, 2009 at 12:40 am

Sept 1st and Caltrains puts out a memo stating "the trains whistles are at the same sound level as they were before moving them from under the trains to on the top." I have lived near the tracks for twenty years, and they are definately louder than before Caltrain began this nightmare. Whoever started monkeying with them in the first place should be fired! [portion removed]

How do these [portion removed] explain that some whistlers are louder/longer than others(I noticed that today). I am tired of the lame excuse of how bad a train conductor would feel hitting someone. I that the case they should quit. Anyone who can drive a car, surely can turn on/off a train that is secured on a stationary track. There are lots of unemployed folks out there that would take that "highly skilled" job in a heartbeat. Why can't then automize their system and let a computer handle the whistle?


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Posted by no change
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 2, 2009 at 6:04 pm

I think they raise the volume for Menlo Park and Palo Alto.
sounded even louder this evening than over the last few weeks.


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Posted by noise pollution
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 2, 2009 at 8:10 pm

It's very loud. It got us out of bed at 6:30 this morning and we're nowhere near the tracks. I also have heard people say "with high speed trains, the noise will go away" so evidently the HSR proponents have had some success with their propaganda.

A friend of mine who takes the train north says that the incessant hornblowing ends as soon as the train crosses into Redwood City. Yet there are many opportunities for people to stand on the tracks there. Clearly, it has nothing to do with safety...and probably a lot to do with the Atherton-Menlo Park participation in the successful lawsuit against HSR.


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Posted by Good Riddance
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 3, 2009 at 9:03 am

One reason why I moved my business and home out of Menlo.


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Posted by yeah right
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 3, 2009 at 10:19 am

It's still too f...ing loud!


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Posted by noise pollution
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 3, 2009 at 11:09 am

Please call 1-800-660-4287 to complain. I did. I don't know if it will do any good, but at least it's worth a try.

They can invoke federal regulations all they want, but I really don't believe the law says anything about allowing trains to disturb the sleep of anyone, especially people who live nowhere near the tracks and who have every reason to believe that the train noise will not be a problem. Caltrain is impairing the rights of many of us to enjoy full use of our property; their disregard is affecting my health, and yes, I am not happy.


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Posted by Kevyn
a resident of Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Sep 3, 2009 at 1:25 pm

The new train horns may be lower but they still have a high pitched shrill that penetrates right through our walls and we still can't leave our windows open at night. If this is Caltrian's idea of "normal" than we need to speak up again.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2009 at 1:28 pm

> the incessant hornblowing ends as soon as the train crosses into Redwood City.

No conspiracy there: just a long stretch without grade crossings between Fair Oaks (Atherton) and Chestnut (RWC).

> there are many opportunities for people to stand on the tracks there

Certainly not, unless they have the tools to cut through the fencing that prevents access to this section of grade-separated track.

Bottom line: the law (to which Caltrain seems to be newly sensitized) requires horn use within 1/4 mile of a grade crossing. The six crossings at Ravenswood, Oak Grove, Glenwood, Encinal, Watkins and Fair Oaks are spaced closer than 1/4 mile apart. Hence federal law actually requires the incessant horn blowing, as annoying as it is. Most Caltrain engineers comply with the law, while others don't and ease off the horn--presumably as a courtesy to residents.


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Posted by noise pollution
a resident of Menlo Park: Menlo Oaks
on Sep 3, 2009 at 2:51 pm

Oh please. No one has to cut through any fencing to get onto the tracks (although there are many existing holes in the fencing!) Just go to a station and start walking down the tracks. Easy, and in fact some of the suicides have used this particular maneuver.

Federal regulations (that Caltrain never knew about, go figure) may require them to blast the horn all the way between Atherton's northern border and Embarcadero in Palo Alto. But that noise should not be broadcast in every direction. When people who have never heard the train in the past are now unable to leave their windows open, that is a problem.


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Posted by Clem
a resident of another community
on Sep 3, 2009 at 10:11 pm

> When people who have never heard the train in the past are now unable to leave their windows open, that is a problem.

For the record, I very much agree.


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Posted by Peter
a resident of another community
on Sep 7, 2009 at 6:12 pm

I close my windows and I still feel like I m sitting right next to the track!

And since I am living close the track, I can tell they have raised the volume up again. They probably increased the volume from 96db to 100db which I heard is their target volume. Since this is in logarithmic scale, it means the intensity is increased by a factor of 2.5. (10^10 / 10^9.6)

Please contact CalTrain, ask them to lower the volume as low as possible (96db) and move the horns back to underneath the trains. Please ask your neighbors to do so because only that massive people complain can cause them to act fast.


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Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 8, 2009 at 8:42 am

I was in Holbrook-Palmer Park this weekend, and just about got blasted out of my skin by the horn. Wow. It was ludicrously loud.


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Posted by far away from the tracks
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Loud loud loud. I've lived here 20+ years and have never heard the trains to this degree. It must be a nightmare for those living closer to the tracks. We were over near Burgess and our ears were ringing after a train went by. City of Menlo Park -- keep the pressure on CalTrain. They've not done enough yet to fix this problem.


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Posted by Still Blasting Away
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Sep 8, 2009 at 12:55 pm

I agree with everyone above, especially "No Change". I live in Palo Alto near Middlefield and those trains were still blasting away last night and this morning. I feel sorry for anyone living near the train tracks in Palo Alto and Menlo Park! This is CLEARLY being done on purpose. And I agree that anyone doing this on purpose should be fired.


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Posted by David
a resident of Menlo Park: Sharon Heights
on Sep 8, 2009 at 1:44 pm

I live in Sharon Heights near 280 and I can hear the trains. Couldn't believe it at first. Sounds like they moved the tracks onto 280.


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Posted by bellow back
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm

Go to the Menlo park city council tonite and holler at the city administration during Public Comment #1 for sitting on their hands.


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Posted by bellow back 2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Sep 8, 2009 at 3:38 pm

sorry, no city council meeting until 9/22. But you can still send in an email to the city council ...city.council@menlopark.org


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Posted by PA neighbor
a resident of another community
on Sep 8, 2009 at 10:00 pm

I was driving on Alma and the whistle blasted so loud I nearly crashed.

In addition, with all the windows closed in my house, I can now hear the whistle (which I could never hear before). (I'm a few blocks from the train)

We all know this is just a ploy by Caltrain to get their HSR message across. They need to turn the whistle down to the minimum requirement.

We need to keep complaining. Is anyone going to attend the JPBoard meeting and speak to this issue?


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