Saint John — Residents of Saint John will soon get a reprieve from train horns. New Brunswick Southern Railway announced the annoying horn blasts will be replaced with annoying music.
“We have heard loud and clear the concerns of citizens and are acting on their demands to stop the horn blasts,” said company public relations spokesperson Mary Goodwell. “We believe this strikes a good balance between ensuring train safety and minimizing disruption to the community.”
The blaring train horns have been a longstanding contentious issue with Saint John residents. The trains not only continuously operate through the day, but also through the night. The blasting of the extremely loud train horns disturbs residents’ sleep.
“It’s not just jarring you awake you from your sleep, but also, it’s hard just trying to enjoy your morning coffee while doing the crossword puzzle,” said resident Dave Jamer. “That damned horn blast scares the bejeezus out of you causing you to spill your coffee all over it. It’s no good after that.”
Goodwell told The Manatee that New Brunswick Southern Railway has run a series of focus groups to determine the best music to blare through the train horns.
“The clear favorite from the citizen focus groups is disco…particularly the Bee Gees. However, Mr. Irving, the owner of the rail company, is insisting on Pink Floyd’s classic tune ‘Money’,” said Goodwell. “This is one of his favorite songs; it is on his top 10 playlist — it really resonates with him. So, as you know, whatever Mr. Irving wants, he gets. But we will still fit in some Bee Gee’s tunes — they’re a traffic stopper!”
Mayor Donna Reardon, while applauding the railway’s effort to mitigate the noise disturbance, voiced concerns.
“I’m worried that this new safety measure will create another safety problem. I can imagine people now getting out of their cars while waiting for trains to cross and start dancing in the streets,” said Reardon. “This could jam up traffic even more. Lord knows those long trains crossing busy streets already back traffic up quite severely.”
The mayor also questioned why any horn blasts were required given other safety features at train crossings such as the red flashing lights and lowered guard rail.
When asked why the loud blast of a train horn is required, Southern NB’s safety officer Amanda Butler said that the federal government safety rules state the horn must be used to be inclusive.
“The train horn ensures that visually impaired drivers are alerted to an approaching train. So, when you think about it, it makes total sense,” said Butler, adding,“And the annoying train horn is a great way to goad former mayor Don Darling.”
Darling has been critical of the horn use because it disturbs his sleep. He has also been fiercely critical of the Irvings over the unfair low property taxes they pay and has expressed opposition to the railway’s expansion in Saint John.
“We plan on blaring very loud heavy metal music specially for Mr. Darling at the rail crossing nearest his home,” said Butler.