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Costly upgrades needed to silence train whistles in South Walkerville


For months, residents in South Walkerville have complained about the blaring train whistles that are increasing in frequency.

The process to silence the trains will cost millions of dollars and will be a lengthy process.

“You're dealing with federal regulations here. It could take three or four years before we finally get an answer,” said Ward 4 Coun. Mark McKenzie.

“The noise has affected our health,” said John West, South Walkerville resident. “It has caused sleep problems.”

West is among a number of residents in the neighbourhood calling on the Essex Terminal Railway (ETR) to stop running trains between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.

ETR has told the city, whistling cessation is not feasible in the area.

“The Canadian operating rules require all trains to whistle whenever they approach a public grade crossing. It's to protect the public as well as provide safe operation of our railway,” said, Tony De Thomasis, president and CEO of ETR.

Transport Canada says requirements for warning systems at public crossings must be met before whistling can be stopped.

“The requirements may include flashing lights, bells and gates. Once this is met, the municipality can work with the railway on whistle cessation,” a Transport Canada spokesperson said in a statement.

Upgrading two level crossings at Benjamin Avenue and Hall Avenue would cost around $3 million, according to Windsor’s transportation planning senior engineer Jeff Hagan.

McKenzie was shocked at the high price tag for the updates.

“They were saying it's because there is no infrastructure here, there has never been infrastructure,” he said.

He plans to reach out to Transport Canada to see if there are any grants available that could fund warning system upgrades in Walkerville.

In the meantime, McKenzie wants ETR to reduce the volume of train horns to the federally regulated minimum levels. The lowest level allowed is 96 decibels, which is equivalent to the sound of a gas lawn mower.

“We regularly test our train whistles and they do not exceed the 96 decibels,” said De Thomasis.

Those who live nearby the tracks, including Mckenzie, disagree.

“That is inaccurate. I think it’s way higher than 96 decibels,” he said. “People that are 1.5 km away are hearing the train whistle noise.” Top Stories

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