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Posted on: September 26, 2019

The Question of Quiet: Survey seeks your input on train horn noise

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ATTEND: Community Input Session On Train Noise.  Thursday, October 17, Republic Fire Station #1 (701 U.S. 60) , from 4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

You don’t have to be here long to see and hear that Republic is a railroad town.  Every day, 40 or more BNSF Railway freight trains pass through.  Train whistles are a part of life, and it’s been that way for nearly 150 years.  In the 1870s, a group of area farmers packed up and moved to be near the Atlantic & Pacific Railway, which had just been completed. Family by family, a town called Republic sprang up, and here we are today. 

Greeted with fanfare back then, the sounds of train whistles nowadays are frustrating in many residents’ minds.  Many people ask why trains have to sound their horns so often, or for so long, or during the night.  The reality is, the City has no control over the horn blasting.  Nor does the railroad, itself, for that matter.  What sounds to some like “laying on the horn” is, in fact, federal law.  For the safety of motorists and pedestrians, train engineers are mandated by the Federal Railroad Administration to sound their horns a total of four times leading up to, and while entering, every street crossing.  Providing as much warning as possible is vital, considering every year in the U.S. hundreds of motorists are killed while trying to beat trains. An even higher number of pedestrians die while trespassing on train tracks.

Some changes on the federal level, though, are allowing communities to reduce train noise while still maintaining safety.  Local governments now have the opportunity to partner with railroads to implement Quiet Zones.  In exchange for making certain safety improvements to the crossings (usually at the community’s expense), the railroad company can agree to silence horns at grade crossings. They can still be used in emergencies such as when a car or person is on the tracks.  Already, these zones have been implemented in Springfield, Rogersville, Seymour, Mansfield, Neosho, Branson, and soon Aurora.  

Getting a Quiet Zone for Republic would be a long process.  We are starting the discussion to gauge citizens’ interest in seeing the City move forward with pursuing such a project.  And, we want to know what you think! Please take a few moments to fill out and submit the Republic Railroad Crossing Survey online at  We also have a public session planned for October 17 where you can learn more about the options, ask questions, and give your comments.  Whether you wish the train horns were quieter- or love them just the way they are, the City wants to hear from you!


  • Some aspects of the trains are “just a part of living in a railroad town” and will always be an issue. This survey does NOT address:

    • Train frequency and schedules

    • Trains blocking crossings

    • Train speed limits through town

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