Selectmen on track to tackle nuisance train whistles

Nov 8, 2017

Anyone annoyed by loud train whistles is being invited to sound off on the issue.

That’s according to Selectmen who will schedule public hearings on the matter, prompted by complaints from business owners and residents living near the town’s eight rail crossings. Selectman Patrick Tropeano brought the issue to the board’s attention on Tuesday.

“It’s rather disheartening,” said Tropeano. “There are trains going through neighborhoods, screeching those whistles and waking people up – it’s annoying.”

Town attorney Richard Bowen explained state law lets towns petition railroad companies to stop blowing whistles at rail crossings. Bowen said he successfully stopped whistles at some rail crossings in several towns in the past.

The process involves documenting complaints from residents, including times and dates of the offending noise, and then approaching rail companies. Sometimes, the companies will voluntarily silence the whistles.

If not, Bowen said state officials are then contacted, which starts a public hearing process in Boston. Railroad companies might then be ordered to stop sounding whistles at some crossings, but not all.

“From experience, they are willing to order whistle blowing to stop at certain locations,” said Bowen. He noted if a crossing is deemed dangerous railroad companies might not be compelled to stop the noise.

Bowen cited the crossing at the narrows as one example.

“That’s a tough one you might not get,” said Bowen.

Selectmen said hearings will likely be scheduled for December, but no dates have been set. In the meantime, board members encouraged the public to file complaints with the Selectmen’s office by calling 508-291-3100.