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Trains Whistle While They Work – Must They? [POLL]

flikr user orionpozo
flikr user orionpozo

Do you think it’s foolish and unnecessary for trains to have to blow their whistles when they come to a crossing?

If you live anywhere in the vicinity of the North Jersey Coast Line, the River line or any freight line in the state, the sound of the horn when a train approaches a crossing probably makes you nuts.

According to this report: it happens with regularity to those
who live within earshot of the Southern Railroad Co.’s tracks, which essentially run parallel to the Black Horse Pike.

Egg Harbor Township resident Charles Calhoun, who has lived next to the tracks on Noahs Road for a decade said, “You can hear them a couple of blocks away. But by the time they get out back here, you have no choice but to get up.”

Why would a train have to repeatedly blow its whistle at 5 a.m.?

Or does the whistle still serve a purpose even though most of the people who hear it are sleeping?

John Fiorilla — a lawyer with a Mount Laurel law firm which represents Southern Railroad and other railroads throughout New Jersey — explained that the need for the whistle, its cadence and its duration are covered by state law.

“The whistle isn’t being blown for no reason,” he said. “State law requires it to be blown, so the engineers have no choice.”

Whenever there is an accident involving a train, Fiorilla said, one of the first questions that are asked during the investigation is always if the whistle blew.

That was the case in 2008, when a tow truck collided with a Southern Railroad train while trying to beat it through the intersection at Route 9, and then collided into three pedestrians.

“The driver of the truck tried to say that the whistle never blew. The only problem with that was everyone else at the scene heard the whistle,” Fiorilla said.

But why does it have to happen so early?

Fiorilla said the federal government allows railroads to operate around the clock.

I live not to far from the tracks of what would become the MOM line.
Now it’s a one car freight line running through Freehold, Englishtown, Monroe, and eventually into South Brunswick.

And yes, when I’m off to my daily nap, the train usually comes through with the whistle within piercing earshot.

No complaint from me, because that’s the consequence of living within close proximity to a railroad.

Try living in Georgia, where the freight trains barrel through towns going at breakneck speed, and whistling all the while. I’m sure the genteel folk of the Peach State are used to it to a degree. With the notable exception of Vincent LaGuardia Gambini of “My Cousin Vinny” fame.

Calhoun grew up living next to railroad tracks in Gloucester City, but he said Southern Railroad’s trains are louder than the trains from his youth ever were and have gotten louder in recent years, as new businesses have started using the railroad’s services.

“It would be great if they were a little quieter or waited a little longer to do some of the things they do. Because when they slam their cars together, it shakes the whole house,” said Calhoun, adding he believes a drainage pipe on his property was damaged from the cars slamming together.

Here’s a quick solution for you….rent the house out and move to a quieter location.


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