Port Edward hiring consultant to study noise from trains

The District of Port Edward wants to hire it's own firm to examine the problem of train whistling and noise in the community.

The District of Port Edward wants to hire its own firm to examine the problem of train whistling and noise in the community.

The idea came from councillor Murray Kristoff, who said the problem has gotten to the tipping point in Port Edward.

“Right now all we have is resident complaining… I think we need some ammunition, some solid evidence of the noise that we can take to the next level at CN,” he said during the March 12 council meeting.

“At the very least we could get data showing that anyone within one kilometre of the tracks can will hear that train coming through. If you can hear way up at the public works building you can hear it right by the tracks where the cars would be, and that is why the trains whistle — to warn the cars… You can’t tell me that if you’re standing near that train when it goes by that you’re not damaging your hearing. You are damaging your hearing, it’s ear-crushing.”

Another issue raised by Kristoff was the inconsistency in the whistles at different times and the effect that has on residents.

“The deeper into the night it is, the longer the whistle blows. The whistles are a lot longer at three or four in the morning than they are at six or seven in the morning when there is a bit more daylight,” he said.

Council has asked resident to send in letters of complaints that can be shared with CN at a future meeting with the company, but councillor Dan Franzen said they may be barking up the wrong tree.

“I talked to CN General Manager Doug Ryhorchuk at the groundbreaking [for the road, rail, utility corridor] and from what I was getting from him it wasn’t really up to CN. It was up to Transport Canada,” he told council.

According to the Transport Canada website, whistling guidelines do fall under the Railway Safety Act but there are steps municipalities can take to reduce the issue.

“Municipalities may pass a resolution prohibiting train whistling in certain areas within their boundaries, provided that the crossings in question meet regulatory safety requirements. Before passing such a resolution, the municipality must consult the railway and obtain its concurrence, notify each relevant association or organization and give public notice of its intentions. Even so, a locomotive whistle will still be used in an emergency if required under railway operating rules, or if ordered by a Transport Canada safety inspector,” it reads.

And as council passed a motion to get its own consultant, the sound of a rumbling train and blowing whistle could be clearly heard just down the hill.