Despite being a Quiet Zone, train horns can still sound in Fairfield

Fairfield became a designated Quiet Zone on November 21, 2012, meaning that, for the most part, trains can no longer sound their horns as they're passing through town.

However, there are still times when a train can blow its horn, and Fairfield residents say they've heard more of the noise over the past few weeks.

That's because trains are allowed to signal their horns to workers in construction zones, to alert them, and with the warmer weather, more and more construction is in the area. The trains are also allowed to blow their horns at emergency situations, or when an animal or person is on the tracks, but it's usually more of a short car-like "beep" rather than what the Federal Railroad Association calls a "routine horn", which is long and drawn out.

So even though Fairfield isn't completely silent, it's still a huge improvement.

"We used to have 1,300 train horns a day," said Fairfield City Councilman Michael Halley. "We're now, I'd say, over 99% quiet, there's no such thing as a 100% silent zone, but you can really quiet the train horns quite a bit."

And while the reduced noise certainly adds to the quality of life for Fairfield residents, the Quiet Zone's main initiative is safety. Towns with quiet zones typically report less accidents at crossings, because the city has to install supplemental safety measures, which in Fairfield's case are medians in the middle of the road that make it impossible to go around the lowered gates.

Halley said if a train sounds a routine horn when they shouldn't be, the city can report the incident to the FRA, who will then investigate.