Train Horn Noise

Federal Rail Administration (FRA) guidelines require all trains to sound their horns through at-grade crossings, construction zones, and whenever a trespasser is spotted by the conductor in the railroad right of way.  This requirement to blow a horn in the above situations must be followed at all times of the day. The City of San Mateo continues to work on options to mitigate noise and its impact on residents.

City Contact:
Jeffrey Tom, Associate Engineer
Email Jeffrey Tom
650-522-7300
  1. General Information
  2. Current Train Noise Status
  3. Opportunities to Reduce Noise

The rail system along the peninsula, including all safety warning devices at crossings, is owned by the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board (PCJPB).  Passenger and freight service along the corridor are provided by Caltrain and Union Pacific respectively.  Caltrain service operates within the City of San Mateo from approximately 5:00 am to 1:00 am on weekdays and approximately 8:00 am to 1:00 am on weekends.  Union Pacific service operates from approximately 7:30 pm to 4:00 am. 

Within the City of San Mateo, there are at-grade crossings at Villa Terrace, E. Bellevue Ave, 1st Ave, 2nd Ave, 3rd Ave, 4th Ave, 5th Ave, 9th Ave, and 25th Ave.  Trains are required to sound their horns at designated distances up to a quarter mile in advance of each at-grade crossing depending on operating speed.

A portion of the rail system in San Mateo, from 25th Ave to Hillsdale Blvd, is currently considered a construction zone.  This project will elevate the tracks along this segment and eliminate the at-grade crossing at 25th Ave, which will improve safety and reduce train horn noise when completed, currently scheduled for 2020.  More information about the 25th Ave Grade Separation Project can be found here.