Frequently Asked Questions

Why are train whistles so loud?

  1. Train whistles are a necessary safety appliance used to alert motor vehicle operators, pedestrians and wildlife within or approaching the rail corridor. Train whistles must be loud enough to be heard over ambient noise, such as traffic, construction and motor vehicle audio systems.
  2. The minimum audible volume for a freight locomotive train whistle is 96 decibels measured along an arc of 30 meters radius subtended forward of the locomotive by angles 45 degrees to the left and to the right of the centerline of the track in the direction of travel.


Why do trains blow their whistles?

  1. Train engineers are required to blow their whistles (whistling) according to the Canadian Rail Operating Rules, rule 14(1). Whistling is required at public grade crossings or if there are emergent circumstances that require whistling to alert people, vehicles, or animals.
  2. Whistle sounding (“o” for a short sound and ”___” for a longer sound):
    1. to notify track forces of person, animal, or fire on or near corridor:

sound:            o o o     o o o

  1. at public grade crossings, upon approach, and until the crossing is occupied:

sound:            ___ ___ o ___


Is it possible to stop train whistling at a public grade rail crossing?

  1. Transport Canada has developed a process for whistle cessation at public crossings. All steps must be completed, with agreement from rail operators.


Why are whistles still blown at rail crossings that have whistle cessation implemented?

  1. Regardless of whether a crossing has implemented whistle cessation, train operators are required to blow their whistles if emergent conditions exist, including the requirement to alert people, vehicle operators, or animals in close proximity to rail activities.


How many incidents happen at rail crossings?

  1. Operation Lifesaver tracks incidents, fatalities, and serious injury statistics at railway crossings. Link:


Are there guidelines for developing properties near rail corridors?

  1. The Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Railway Association of Canada have developed a document of guidelines for new development in proximity to railway operations, Link:
  • For more information, please contact:
    Engineering Department