By Jane Smith
Some South County coastal residents reported hearing an unusual number of train horns recently even though quiet zones had been established nearly 18 months ago.
Engineers of Brightline, soon to be Virgin Trains, can blow the horns when there is construction work within the railroad right of way, according to a company spokesperson.
“The federal quiet zone regulation states that if work is occurring, the locomotive engineer must blow the horn in the area where workers are present,” Michael Hicks, Brightline director of media relations, wrote in a Nov. 20 email. “It is my understanding that the work has been completed.”
Brightline alerts the public about construction through emails to the cities, local broadcast and traffic reporters, and its social media posts.
Hicks also stressed the importance of educating the public to stay safe around the railroad tracks and how a quiet zone works. “The quiet zone does not mean 100% quiet all the time,” he wrote.
The train engineer also can blow the horn when there’s an emergency on the track — such as a pedestrian, bike rider or vehicle stopped, Hicks wrote.
Brightline, a high-speed passenger railroad, uses the Florida East Coast tracks that are also used by FEC freight trains. Both operate under the federal quiet zone regulations.
Brightline service is available from West Palm Beach to Miami with three stops. More stops, including one in Boca Raton, are planned in an effort to increase ridership.