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Train horns sound at some R Line light rail crossings

Test trains at Exposition and Blackhawk
Two light rail trains cross at East Exposition Avenue and South Blackhawk Street during a test run in Aurora

Light rail trains are becoming a common sight in Aurora as testing is underway on several portions of the R Line.

While light rail trains are generally quiet-running, they will soon begin sounding their horns in the standardized "long, long, short, long" pattern at more than a dozen gated crossings in the newly-constructed 10.5-mile stretch of rail that runs from Nine Mile Station to Peoria Station through Aurora and Denver.

RTD standard operating procedures require the sounding of train horns at all gated crossings.

However, not all crossings on the R Line are alike.

Different types of crossings

Out of a total of 29 crossings on the R Line between Nine Mile Station and Peoria Station, 13 are gated crossings.

Some intersections have flashing lights and railroad bells on the crossing gates, while crossings that run with the traffic signal do not have bells or flashing lights.

Given the large number of intersections in Aurora with train crossings, people are curious to know if the train horns will continue to sound at all crossings once the line is open for service.

Horns sound at gated crossings

"Train horns will sound at all gated crossings during simulated service, which will take place prior to opening of the line," RTD Design Manager Paul von Fay said.

He explained that the PUC has jurisdiction over all light rail crossings, whether they are at-grade or grade separated. "Their priority is the safety of the grade crossings."

Von Fay notes that there are some locations along the R Line that have been designated as "crossings operating under modified operating rules."

They include intersections adjacent to:
  • The Landon Park apartments (north of the Alameda Avenue and Sable Boulevard intersection)
  • Alongside the Cherry Grove apartment complex (near Sable Boulevard and Ellsworth Avenue).
RTD has requested modifications to standard operating procedures regarding sounding of train horns in order to mitigate noise impacts to residents of the apartments.

Wayside horns

At the East Alameda Avenue and South Sable Boulevard intersection, "wayside horns" will be used instead of the regular train horn. A wayside horn, mounted on a pole and aimed at traffic, replaces a train horn as a noise mitigation measure.

Be alert and stay safe

Von Fay says that while signals, signs, lights, whistles and horns are important safety aids, state law prohibits motorists and pedestrians from entering a crossing when the bells are ringing and lights are flashing.

He cautions motorists and pedestrians alike to always follow safety signs and to obey warning devices such as flashing red lights and gate arms.

"We tell people they should always stay alert around trains and never stop on the tracks."

RELATED: Take the pledge to stay safe around trains and buses

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