By Chris Pickup
The sound of train whistling raises the fury of residents woken up in the middle of the night, and councillors have had their ears dinged by many complaints over the years.
But complying with the official eight step process to allow cessation of train whistling could cost county taxpayers a ton of money, some two years of haggling with this regulator or that, and even if approval was gained it could be overturned for one reason or another.
The cost to hire a consultant to conduct a safety audit on each grade crossing is estimated to be $5,000 to $10,000 depending on complexity, and there are 50 grade crossings where it is mandatory for trains to sound their whistles for safety reasons, regardless of the crossing protection measures in place.
Capital costs for safety upgrades are in the range of $150,000 per crossing and up to $400,000 if automatic pedestrian barriers and maze gates are required.
Since the county is already mandated to ensure all legislated standards for signs, sightlines, warning systems, etc are met for all existing public rail crossings by 2021, staff has recommended that to keep consultants costs down, the study also include an evaluation of work required to eliminate train whistling in and around the urban areas of Caledonia, Hagersville and Dunnville.
It is the opinion of this reporter, who also is woken from time to time by train whistling, that ear plugs would be much less costly.