• Safety vs. Silence? Franklin residents battle over train whistles

    By: Stephanie Coueignoux

    Updated:

    FRANKLIN, Mass. -- The arrival of the commuter rail train in Franklin is signaled by a loud whistle, but that’s causing a commotion and some are pushing to silence it. 

    “Many, many blasts on the horn late at night, it wakes people up very late in the evening or first thing in the morning,” town council candidate Eamon McCarthy Earls explained.

    According to the MBTA website, the first train arrives at 4:30 in the morning. The last at 12:45 in the morning.

    Representative Jeffrey Roy is one lawmaker pushing for a quiet zone in Franklin. He told Boston 25 News as loud as they are, train whistles are not the solution when it comes to safety.

    “The object is to keep people off the tracks and the only times we're blowing the horns are near the streets, but we know people are getting on the tracks at other spots,” Rep. Jeffery Roy  (D-Norfolk) explained. 

    Roy says features like crossing gates and flashing lights are more effective for people on busy streets. He also pointed to towns -- like neighboring Norfolk -- who already have quiet zones to prevent trains from sounding their horn.

    “I don't believe the people in Norfolk are any less safe than people here in Franklin,” Roy said.  
    According to the Federal Railroad Administration, 29 cities and towns in Massachusetts already have quiet zones. 

    But not everyone wants the sound of silence.

    “Let's say there are kids playing there,” Jenny Guilmette said. “They hear the whistle, they are going to get out of the way. Or someone trying to take a short cut -- definitely safety!”

    The federal government would have to approve any quiet zone and Franklin would have to invest in additional safety measures, which Roy says could cost around $1 Million.

    He has now asked town officials to work on a feasibility study.

    One Boston 25 News at 10, we asked: Do safety benefits of train whistles outweigh headaches to people who live near tracks? Fifty-eight percent of people said yes.

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