Train Horns

Why do trains sound horns?

Train horns are required by federal law to be sounded at all public crossings, 24 hours a day, to warn motorists and pedestrians that a train is approaching.

Train crews may also sound their horns when there is a vehicle, person or animal on or near the track and the crew determines it is appropriate to provide warning. Crews may also sound the horn when there are track or construction workers within 25 feet of a live track, or when gates and lights at the crossing are not functioning properly.

Are there any ways to reduce horn use?

One solution is for a community to look at what is required to qualify for a quiet zone under rules established by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). A quiet zone is a stretch of track where the FRA has agreed that trains are not required to routinely sound the horn at each public crossing except in emergencies, such as someone on the track or workers within 25 feet of the track or at the discretion of the crew, as appropriate.

Another alternative is to close crossings, especially if they are redundant, which automatically reduces the points where trains must blow their horns. BNSF has a special program dedicated to working with communities to close the number of public and private crossings on our network. Good candidates for closure include those that are redundant (other crossings nearby allow access to the same roads or areas), are not designated emergency routes, have low traffic volumes or are private crossings that are no longer needed or used.

Another option is to put in more grade separations (overpasses or underpasses). When communities build roads across rail lines, they have the option of building an overpass or underpass over or under the track. In some cases, when a community works with BNSF on a series of crossing closures on a corridor, a grade separation may be an option for one or more of the remaining crossings.

How can my community establish a quiet zone?

Communities can invest in additional grade-crossing safety devices to qualify for a quiet zone. However, only the FRA can grant a quiet zone. You can learn more about the FRA's quiet zone criteria on its website.

Community leaders who have questions about BNSF's role in the quiet zone process can e-mail , BNSF's director, Public Projects.


CALL 800-832-5452

To report a vehicle stalled on a crossing or to report false activation of crossing gates and lights, call 800-832-5452 immediately.Crossing signal

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