Reducing Train Noise

Reducing Train Noise

How to Soundproof Your House from Train Noise

If you live anywhere near a set of train tracks, chances are you’re all too familiar with the screaming blare of a train’s whistle. Reducing train noise may be difficult, unless you plan on moving, soundproofing your house is the best option to reduce the noise disturbance. This will allow you to block Train Horns & Whistle Noises altogether.

It may seem like these horns and whistles were designed to test the sanity of all within hearing distance, however they are in fact used as a safety precaution. The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) actually requires all trains to sound their horns as a warning to oncoming traffic and pedestrians 15-20 seconds before entering a public highway-rail grade crossing. If the train is moving at a speed greater than 60 mph, the conductor is required to begin sounding the horn when the train is a full quarter mile away from the crossing.

To ensure the whistle is audible to all individuals in the surrounding area, it sounds at a minimum of 90 decibels and can reach up to 110 decibels, much louder than any other common city noise. A distinct pattern of 2 long blows, 1 short blow and then another long blow is used to distinguish the train’s horn from any other noise.

With that being said, there are ways to block the sound of train horns, whistles and noises from entering into your home.

Quiet Zones from Train Horn Noise

If you’re fed up with the constant train whistling, you may be able to go straight to the source. Some areas are eligible to become Quiet Zones by request, where horn restrictions can be put in place to reduce train noise near residential and commercial areas.

Train Whistle Quiet Zone

Although it is possible to reduce train noise in your area by requesting a quiet zone, that takes effort from pretty much the entire community that’s being affected.

Quiet Zone qualification is only available in locations where there have been no ‘relevant collisions.’ In order to be considered, citizens must prove that the noise is having detrimental effects on the community. Applicants must also take action to improve train safety through other means such as putting up additional crossing signs and arms, or holding local education programs, informing drivers of the potential danger.

Successful “Quiet Zones” Near a Loud Train

The Cobb County Board of Commissioners in Powder Springs recently approved a Quiet Zone in the center of town. The town installed new safety equipment and updated sensors as alternative safety precautions.

In Illinois, 64% of people live within a mile of railroad crossings. It comes as no surprise that the state has seen a dramatic rise in public support for Quiet Zones, and the zones have begun to appear all over the state.

Are you interested in turning your area into a Quiet Zone?

Request a Quiet Zone In Your Area

Soundproofing Tips for Reducing Train Noise

Becoming an approved Quiet Zone requires a large community effort, which is not always feasible. For individuals who are unable to achieve the qualifications required for Quiet Zone consideration, soundproofing is the solution.

The sound of a train’s horn, and it’s wheels squeaking on the tracks are typically a high-frequency sounds, meaning they have a shorter wavelength. High-frequency noises are easier to block than their low-frequency counterparts. The easiest ways to reduce these noises is by installing sound blocking products at the source of entry into your home.

  • Soundproof curtains are one of the easiest ways to combat train noise. These curtains are able to create a transmission loss of 35 decibels at high frequencies, making them the ideal defense against train noise. In residential areas, the majority of decibels caused by disturbing noise come in through the windows, so these curtains should be your first solution.
  • You can also abate noise by creating outdoor barriers. By building a fence around your yard you can diminish sound waves before they get to the walls of your house. You can further reduce sound waves by adding an outdoor sound blocking barrier , a row of shrubs or even bushes in front of your home. Remember, an outdoor sound barrier such as Reinforced Mass Loaded Vinyl will be much more effective than any privacy hedge you install.
  • Check your exterior doors, as well as any outlets and openings. High-frequency train noise can transfer through any small crack or hole in your exterior walls. You might consider re-caulking your baseboards and window sills, or installing door sweeps and new gaskets to exterior doors. A decorative Soundproofing Blanket can also be installed over a door to prevent sound leaks.
How to Reduce Train Noise

If a quiet zone is unsuccessful, then there are some soundproofing treatments you can use on your windows, doors and even fences. These products are typically made with STC rated Mass Loaded Vinyl, which is commonly used in commercial soundproofing projects.

Train noise can prevent you from conducting focused activities and can even hinder your ability to sleep through the night. Stop train noise in its tracks (pun intended)  by taking advantage of soundproofing solutions and talking to your city officials about becoming a Quiet Zone.

How to Reduce Train Noise – Tips for Living Near Train Tracks

In summary, it can difficult to live near train tracks, if you work from home it can make it hard to focus on your job, and at night train horns can be so loud they keep you awake or wake you up from your sleep. Unfortunately, by law train horns have to be extremely loud to warn anyone in the surrounding areas that they’re coming. This ensures the safety of passengers in cars as well as pedestrians in case they’re too close to train tracks at the time a train is coming for some reason.

Here’s a review of the tips we have for reducing train noise in your home if you do live near the train tracks:

  • Request a quiet zone in your area, although chances are slim that it will be approved, some people have been successful, so it is worth a try
  • If you and your community aren’t successful trying to get approved as a quiet zone, consider soundproof window treatments such as soundproofing curtains
  • Install an exterior sound barrier on the fence surrounding your property

Have more soundproofing questions about reducing train noise in your town/home? Leave them in the comments below!

Reducing Train Noise
Article Name
Reducing Train Noise
Reduce train horn noise by working with regulatory agencies and municipal authorities. Consider soundproofing curtains if No Whistle Zone is not feasible.
Publisher Name
Residential Acoustics
Publisher Logo