Chapter 11: Quiet Zones

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Section 1: Overview

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Quiet Zones

A Quiet Zone refers to a section of a track that contains one or more consecutive public crossings at which locomotive horns are not required to be routinely sounded when trains pass through at-grade crossings. In the absence of a Quiet Zone, railroad companies are required by law to sound the horn on the approach at least 15 seconds before the train arrives at the crossing in advance of all public at-grade crossings until the train has passed through the crossing.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) allows local governments to apply for Quiet Zones to restrict the sounding of the horn when certain safety requirements are met. The requirements are intended to ensure that the safety features along the corridor of crossings are equal to or better than safety benefits provided by the sounding of the horn. As such, the local government will initiate the Quiet Zone process.

Quiet Zones involving more than one local government must include participation and approval by all local governments. If the Quiet Zone includes a TxDOT-managed road see “Safety Upgrades on TxDOT Roadways” in Section 4 of this chapter.

A Quiet Zone may apply throughout the day, or between the hours of 10 p.m. and 7 a.m., known as a Partial Quiet Zone.

Detailed requirements are found within 49 CFR Part 229 and are subject to change.

Figure 11-1 presents a flow chart depicting the process for establishing and maintaining a Quiet Zone.

NOTE: Not all steps are applicable to all Quiet Zone projects. Project steps and time frames will vary depending on scope of the project.

Quiet Zone Project Flow Chart (click in image to see full-size image)

Figure 11-1. Quiet Zone Project Flow Chart

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