Port of Lake Charles

Lake Charles Harbor & Terminal District
Contact Us

Federal Train Whistle Regulations

Posted on: September 1st, 2016

The following points, as mandated by federal law and federal regulations, address the train horn use:

  • Locomotive engineers must begin to sound a train horn at least 15 seconds and no more than 20 seconds in advance of all public crossings.
  • A standardized pattern of 2 long, 1short and 1 long blast is to be performed at each public crossing.
  • The maximum volume for the train horn is 110 decibels and a minimum of 96 decibels

In recent months and in order to service a new grain terminal, owned and operated by IFG Port Holdings, LLC, located at City Docks, unit trains of grain have begun to use the tracks that have been in place and in use since 1930’s.

Unit trains consist of trains of approximately 100 to 120 rail cars. The trains are delivered on an unscheduled 24-hour basis by the Union Pacific Railroad Company to a staging yard near Chennault. Port Rail, Inc., by contract with the Union Pacific Railroad Company, must deliver each unit train to the grain terminal for unloading by the grain terminal and return every empty unit train to the same staging yard near Chennault. This needs to be accomplished within a thirty-six (36) hour time frame. If the unit train is not timely returned, substantial monetary penalties are imposed by Union Pacific.

As any train transits the rail track, federal law, as referenced above, requires the train to sound its horn at every public road crossing of the track in accordance with the train horn rule.  There are approximately forty crossings between Highway 14 and City Docks. These numerous crossings require almost a constant sounding of the horn by the train to meet mandated federal law for proper operation of the train. There is no way for the train to properly operate within the law and comply with the contractual agreements with the Union Pacific Railroad Company without working twenty-four (24) hours per day and without sounding the horn for each and every crossing.

If the horn is not sounded at night or during the day, substantial penalties and fines can be imposed by the Federal Railroad Administration and substantial liability may occur to the train if an accident happens without the proper rules being followed.

Federal law concerning train horn use is referenced in 49 CFR Part 222.

http://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/text-idx?SID=5b5ad6a1c0c82c948ed658cdc17b2bc1&mc=true&node=pt49.4.222&rgn=div5