BNSF’s blistering loud train whistles – which for years have been a common annoyance to some White Rock beach residents – will be silenced at the end of the month.
BNSF spokesperson Gus Melonas confirmed to Peace Arch News Thursday that the freight company will no longer sound its whistle when it passes through the eight railway crossings in the city come Jan. 29.
“However, we will sound the horn when there’s emergency situations, maintenance activity, work crews in the area, or if there’s animals or pedestrians that require warning – we will sound the horn,” Melonas said.
White Rock director of engineering Jim Gordon told council last September that there has been an interest in muted train whistles for a number of years.
“We’ve certainly had a lot of interest in this community for stopping the whistles,” Gordon said during the September council meeting, adding that an open house in June 2017 at White Rock Museum and Archives shows that “everybody was firmly behind the plan to do this.”
Whistle cessation was allowed, in part, due to the crossing upgrades that were completed last year.
The federal government contributed more than $1.63 million in funding crossing upgrades to meet the new Transport Canada regulations, with additional cost sharing by BNSF. The upgrades include improved signage and crossing surface specifications, as well as better sightlines and warning systems.
This week, some councillors took to social media to celebrate the announcement, but also warn residents that it’s subject to change.
“Good news today – starting January 29th 2020, BNSF railway has agreed to train whistle cessation in White Rock!” Coun. Christopher Trevelyan wrote to Facebook Jan. 14.
“Please also stay off those tracks – BNSF can bring back automatic whistles so let’s not give them a reason to.”
Coun. Scott Kristjanson tipped his hat to engineering staff.
“Congratulations to Jim Gordon and Dan Bottrill and all the White Rock engineering staff for making this happen for the benefit of all our residents who will soon be able to sleep much better each night,” Kristjanson wrote.