A frequent complaint we hear in our neighborhood is the sound of trains. Yet, Waukesha is actually a quiet zone – but exceptions remain.

Engineers on the Canadian National Railroad track, which has 13 crossings and transports between 30 and 35 trains through the city on any given day, are told to refrain from sounding their horns except in extenuating situations because of the quiet zone request, said Department of Public Works official Katie Jelacic.

However, that does not mean you will never hear a train horn in our neighborhood. Here are a few reasons…

  1. It’s coming from a Wisconsin & Southern train. Jelacic said Wisconsin & Southern has five crossings in the city: at Grandview Boulevard, MacArthur Road, Prairie Avenue, West Avenue and Grand Avenue, and that only two Wisconsin Southern trains come through the city per day.
    “Wisconsin Southern is not a quiet zone because it only has two trains per day and the city would have to pay for the upgrades at about $250,000 per crossing,” Jelacic said. “At this point, it’s not worth a $1 million expenditure for two trains a day.”
  2. There’s a pedestrian, construction or some other issue. “According to the Federal Railroad Association, engineers are required to blow if there’s a pedestrian in the area, construction crews working on the track or unsafe driving practices,” Jelacic said. “It’s the engineer’s judgement call.”

If you are still hearing a train that does not fall under any reason on that list, Jelacic said to give her a call at 524-3600, but have the following information handy: the area of the crossing and the time of the train.

“The trainmaster will run the information for me but he can’t do it with something general like ‘there was a horn last night,’” she said.