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Everything you need to know about 'Quiet Zones'

The sound of a train horn, although nostalgic for some, is most often times an annoyance to residents and businesses near an active train line.

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) requires trains that travel along freight tracks to sound their horns when the train approaches a railroad crossing. However, the FRA established a rule that provides a nationally consistent methodology for establishing, maintaining and enforcing "quiet zones."


What is a Quiet Zone?

A quiet zone, is a railroad line segment where rail engineers don't have to sound their train horns at the crossing. Quiet zones will be fully established at each intersection along the University of Colorado A Line and the G Line once they are approved. Until then, train horns will sound as part of the safety commissioning of the lines. Download our Quiet Zone fact sheet here.

In substitute of the horns, the following safety measures are put into place at these train and roadway intersections to keep pedestrians, vehicles and train passengers safe.

  • Quadrant gate arms—Four gate arms in place to block lanes in both directions to stop vehicles from going around the gates when descended
  • Pedestrian gates—A gate arm or pull swing gate at each intersection to alert them of a train coming
  • Channelizing—Chain link fencing along the sidewalk approaching the intersection to channel pedestrians to the correct area; All crossings are compliant with the American's with Disabilities Act (ADA)
  • Safety signs—Ample safety signs installed to alert pedestrians and vehicles of where to safely stop for the trains
  • Audible and visual alerts—Bells at gate location and flashing red lights to alert all traffic that a train is coming

When horns will sound

Even when the Quiet Zones are approved, the operator will still reserve the right to use their horn in any event they consider "unsafe" or poses imminent danger to life and property. Likewise, at any time the Federal Railroad Administration deems it necessary, the Quiet Zone can be eliminated and horn use resumed due to an increase in unsafe incidents at a crossing.

Stay safe

Remember, always obey all safety signs, lights and other warning devices when near train tracks. Always look both ways before crossing the track and only do so when all gate arms are up and the lights have stopped flashing. And, never trespass on any train

Visit the RTD safety information page here.

Testing-at-Monaco-crossing
The Monaco Parkway railroad crossing along the University of Colorado A Line in Denver. This crossing is in a quiet zone and commuter and freight trains will not have to blow their horns when they enter it once the quiet zone application is approved.