Train horns

Trains are heavy and fast and take a long time to stop. Therefore train horns are a necessary safety warning feature.

Our operational rules allow drivers to use the horn:

  • At their discretion
  • In any situation where they think there may be someone or something ahead of them
  • As they approach level crossings, or where there may be people trespassing on the rail tracks.

Drivers are instructed to sound the horn only when necessary within an urban area, in consideration of nearby residents.

Residents ask us not to use horns in areas protected by barriers and bells. However many motorists disregard level crossing warning signs and alarms, with very serious consequences in some cases. In 2012 there were around 140 near collisions at level crossings, with around 78 percent occurring at crossings protected by automatic alarms.

Please remember, a freight train:

  • Is up to 1500 tonnes in weight
  • Is 700-900 metres long
  • Can take over 1 kilometre to stop
  • Cannot swerve to avoid anyone on the tracks.

Many of our drivers have been involved in collisions that have resulted in fatalities. They have no wish to repeat the experience, and that is why it is up to them to determine whether to use the horn or not.