Guelph residents to get reprieve from overnight train horns

Lloyd Longfield, the member of parliament for Guelph, says CN will be stationing flag people at intersections in the area overnight so that trains can pass safely through without having to sound their horns.

CN will station flag people as railway works to adjust summer maintenance schedule

People in Guelph blocked a train from passing early Tuesday morning in protest, after being kept awake for several nights by blaring train horns. (@PhilAlltWard3/Twitter)

Guelph residents who have been kept awake by blaring train horns in the middle of the night may get a better night's sleep on Tuesday.

Lloyd Longfield, the member of parliament for Guelph, says CN will be stationing flag people at railway road crossings in the area overnight so that trains can pass safely through without making too much noise.

People living near the tracks have complained about train horns sounding around 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. since the start of the week.

"Like everyone else in Guelph I heard horns and whistles on Sunday night and I left Guelph [at] about 4:30 a.m. to come to Ottawa, and by the time I got to Ottawa I was getting messages from constituents who hadn't had a very good night's sleep," Longfield said.

In a statement to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo on Monday, a spokesperson for CN said the company is making "significant investment" to improve rail infrastructure in the area.

CN plans overnight work change

Longfield said he was told in a technical briefing with the company on Monday that maintenance was needed on the track gauge — the space between the rails. 

He received another update from the CN Tuesday afternoon. Longfield said the company is now looking to adjust its work schedule, but in the meantime will continue to work through the night with the flag people in place to ensure safety at road crossings.

"They're looking at a longer-term, medium-term solution of having the hours of operation shifted so that they're not doing that work throughout the night," Longfield told CBC News.

"But [Tuesday night] they will be continuing to do the work, so there will be some noise from the cars moving, but there won't be whistles and horns as they work through the details of shifting work hours on the tracks."

CN spokesperson Alexandre Boulé confirmed in an email to CBC News on Tuesday that the company "will be taking immediate action" by setting up manual safety measures at rail crossings in the evening.

"This will stop the need to use whistles during the night. This measure will be in place until new operating hours can be implemented," Boulé wrote.

"As soon as it is possible, CN will implement new summer operating hours. Once in place, the new operational schedule will only use train whistles at more appropriate hours."

Protestors gather on tracks

In the meantime, Longfield said he is reminding people to avoid the area while the work is being completed.

A group of protestors gathered on the tracks early Tuesday morning, blocking a train from passing. 

Jeff Hladun, who lives a few blocks away, said about 8 or 10 people were standing on the tracks when he went down to the tracks just after 4:20 a.m.

"It's Guelph, right. We're all super raging and mad, but you wouldn't know that by talking to anybody there because we're all just trying to plead our case," Hladun told CBC News.

The protestors were later told by police to leave or they would be fined, Hladun said.

Longfield said CN police will be monitoring the situation going forward to keep people out of danger.

"That's a really unsafe situation for people to be on tracks when operators are working through nightshifts and operating at dusk or early dawn periods," Longfield said.

CN did not comment on the early morning protest, but apologized to residents for any "inconveniences and frustrations."


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