Federal Railroad Administration's Train Horn & Quiet Zone Rule
Operating a safe and efficient railroad is Union Pacific’s top priority. Maintaining the safety of our employees, our customers and the general public is at the core of everything we do. For everyone’s safety, federal regulation requires locomotive horns be sounded for 15-
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) required pattern for blowing the horn is two long, one short, and one long sounding horn, repeated as necessary until the locomotive clears the crossing. Locomotive engineers retain the authority to vary this pattern as necessary for crossings in close proximity and are allowed to sound the horn in emergency situations.
The federal regulation concerning train horns is officially known as the FRA’s Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway/Rail Grade Crossings and became effective June 24, 2005.
Union Pacific believes quiet zones compromise the safety of railroad employees, customers, and the general public. While the railroad does not endorse quiet zones, it does comply with provisions outlined in the federal law.
Federal regulations provide public authorities the option to maintain and/or establish quiet zones provided certain supplemental or alternative safety measures are in place and the crossing accident rate meets FRA standards. There are six types of quiet zones:
• A Pre-
• An Intermediate Quiet Zone is a quiet zone that was established after October 9, 1996, but before December 18, 2003.
• New Quiet Zones are those that do not meet the criteria for Pre-
• Partial Quiet Zonesare quiet zones where the horn is silenced for only a portion of the day, typically between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m.
• Full Quiet Zones are zones where the horn is silenced 24 hours per day.
In line with federal regulations, public authorities wanting to maintain Pre-
Quiet Zones in the six-
Public authorities wishing to establish New Quiet Zones must submit Notices of Intent and Establishment in accordance with the rule. Public authorities should refer to the Final Rule for specific guidelines on the quiet zone establishment process. The Final Rule and FRA explanatory materials can be found on the FRA’s website.
Union Pacific’s Involvement in the Quiet Zone Establishment Process
In order to maintain high public safety standards, it is critical and beneficial to have the perspective gained from the railroad’s experience and expertise concerning quiet zones. Union Pacific representatives will participate in diagnostic meetings and provide the necessary railroad information for quiet zone projects on Union Pacific lines, as required in the Final Rule.
The Final Rule outlines two types of safety improvement options for upgrading a quiet zone to meet FRA safety standards:
• Supplemental Safety Measures (SSMs) or
• Alternative Safety Meaures (ASMs).
Supplemental Safety Measures include the following:
• Medians or Channelization Devices
• Permanent Closure
Alternative Safety Measures include:
• Modified SSMs (i.e. Non-
• Engineered ASMs (i.e. Geometric Improvements)
Union Pacific encourages the use of Engineered SSMs, but suggests that communities postpone taking any costly or irreversible action until it has been determined which additional safety measures are warranted.
General Costs of Safety Measures
Establishing quiet zones not only creates a public safety risk but also is a potential cost burden to taxpayers. Public authorities are responsible for the cost of preliminary engineering, construction, maintenance and replacement of active warning devices or their components, including wayside horn systems installed at crossings to meet quiet zone standards.
Public authorities are required to execute a preliminary engineering agreement with Union Pacific to reimburse the railroad for all project development and engineering design costs. This agreement requires the following deposits:
• $ 5,000 per wayside horn location
• $10,000 per crossing signal location
Public authorities are required to guarantee reimbursement to the railroad for all actual costs associated with the installation and maintenance of the railroad improvements required for the quiet zone by means of a project agreement executed by the parties. This may include quiet zone warning devices, wayside horns or both.
Examples of costs as estimated by Union Pacific:
• Basic Active Warning System* -
(*Includes Flashing Lights and Gates, Constant Warning Time, Power Out Indicator and Cabin.)
• Basic Inter-
• Annual Maintenance -
Notices of Intent, Notices of Establishment or other general communication related to quiet zones should be sent to:
Union Pacific Railroad
Re: Quiet Zone Establishment
1400 Douglas Street, STOP 0910
Omaha, NE 68179-