BRADFORD — Jolted out of their slumber several times a night by loud train horns for the past several weeks, Bradford residents are asking why so much noise is necessary and when it will end. John and Vivian Maxson live on Vars Lane and operate the Born to be Wild raptor rehabilitation center. John Maxson said the length of the horn-soundings varied depending on the engineer, and sometimes, it is loud and long.
“He blew continually — boop, boop, boop — all the way through Bradford until he got to the end of the straightaway down at the other end, past the second trestle, which is another mile and a half,” he said. “I think it’s overkill, that’s all.”
Amtrak spokesman Jason Abrams confirmed that train horns have been blowing more frequently and at all hours of the day and night. The horns, he said, are a safety precaution to alert workers repairing the foundation of the track.
“The work is the undercutter project that cleans the mud out of the ballast,” he said. “The ballast is the material, usually rocks, selected for placement on the roadbed for the purpose of holding the track in line and at the surface.”
Abrams said federal regulations require the use of horns to make sure workers on the tracks are aware that a train is coming.
“Trains have several reasons that they have to sound horns besides crossings,” he said. “The most common one is for passing railroad workers working on the tracks. We do most of the track maintenance at night, so our night train and the freight train that runs at night are most likely sounding for workers on or near the tracks.”
Abrams cited Section 214.339 of the Federal Railroad Administration regulations, entitled “audible warning from trains,” which states:
Each railroad shall have in effect and comply with written procedures that prescribe effective requirements for audible warning by horn and/or bell for trains and locomotives approaching any roadway workers or roadway maintenance machines that are either on the track on which the movement is occurring, or about the track if the roadway workers or roadway maintenance machines are at risk of fouling the track. At a minimum, such written procedures shall address:
(1) Initial horn warning;
(2) Subsequent warning(s); and
(3) Alternative warnings in areas where sounding the horn adversely affects roadway workers (e.g., in tunnels and terminals).
Such audible warning shall not substitute for on-track safety procedures prescribed in this part.
The track lies about 1,000 feet south of Maxson’s home, and while he understands the need for worker safety, he said he and his neighbors would like to remind railroad officials that there are people living near the track.
“I don’t think they have to put up that much of a warning,” he said. “It’s just, like, overkill. Just be a little considerate of the fact that people are living nearby. The other night, my whole body jolted. Sometimes they’ll wait until they’re right across from us here, through the woods, and then they’ll blast it.”
Abrams said the work is expected to be completed by Oct. 31.