San Diego Quiet Zone
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Information and Contacts regarding Train Horns & the Railway Quiet Zone in San Diego
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Get the Facts - Be Informed

Before completing and sending in a train horn use report, please review the following information.  Although you may hear a train horn, there are many reasons train crews (locomotive engineers and conductors) may sound the horn. If you can see the tracks, from your vantage point you may not  perceive a  danger, however please note the train crew's view is completely different from yours.

Please make sure your reports are timely and within 12 hours of the incident.

These reports are disseminated to and reviewed by various railroad managers, city staff and the Federal Railroad Administration, so please keep your comments to the subject and refrain from making personal comments defaming train crews, railroad employees or other individuals.

Train crews are qualified and federally certified individuals who take their jobs very seriously. They do not blow the horn for pleasure or to purposely disturb anyone. They use the horn for a safety warning or when mandated by law. Train horns are a train borne warning device and are not disabled in Quiet Zone areas. 

The Quiet Zone is in effect 24/7 and is in place for the following public crossings: 

Laurel St, Hawthorn St, Grape St, Cedar St, Beech St, Ash St, Broadway, Kettner & G, Market St, Front St, First Ave, Fifth Ave

The name Quiet Zone means that train crews will not regularly blow the horn at the crossings.  Quiet Zones are not necessarily quiet.  There are numerous reasons you may hear a train horn.

1.  The Quiet Zone does not affect train horn use within, entering or leaving the Santa Fe Amtrak Depot.

a.  Train crews may sound the horn upon arrival at the station.

b.  The horn may sound while trains, freight and passenger trains, are passing through the station.

c.  They will sound the horn upon departing the station to alert anyone near the train it is going to move.

d.  Amtrak mechanical staff will sound the horn for regular scheduled maintenance on locomotives.

2.  While traveling through the Quiet Zone crossings, the engineer may sound the horn for any of the following reasons:

a.  The train crew is aware the crossing warning devices (lights, bells and gates) are malfunctioning.

b.  The warning devices are out-of-service for repair, testing or maintenance.

c.  Railroad or contract employees are working on or near the tracks.

d.  The train crew may sound a warning to animals, vehicle operators, pedestrians, trespassers, crews on other trains, or in the engineer's sole judgment such action is appropriate in order to prevent imminent injury, death, or property damage.

Reference: 49CFR222 222.23

3. The Quiet Zone does not limit the use of locomotive bells that ring as the train goes through the crossing.  These bells are an additional safety measure.   Also, in a Quiet Zone, each public crossing must be equipped with functioning flashing lights, ringing bells, and gates that lower to temporarily close the road.  Again, Federal law requires that these crossings warning devices are working as intended.

Reference: 49CFR222 222.35 (b) Active grade crossing warning devices. And 222.35 (d) Bells.

LeeAnn Dickson
Grade Crossing and Trespass Manager
USDOT/Federal Railroad Administration
801 I Street, Suite 466
Sacramento, CA 95814

For a detailed explanation about Train Horns read:

Last modified:  Tuesday, May 27, 2014 11:25 AM Copyright 2006 All rights reserved