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One Amtrak engineer’s consistent horn causing headache in Encinitas

The engineer on Amtrak’s 580 train starts blowing his horn several blocks before arriving at the public grade crossing.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Living in Encinitas is a blast, but for people with homes near the D Street train crossing, that’s a problem. 

They know trains coming through the area need to blow their horn for safety, but they say one engineer is going too far – and he’s been doing it for years.

It happens almost every afternoon around 5:15 p.m. 

The engineer on Amtrak’s 580 train starts blowing his horn several blocks before arriving at the public grade crossing. Neighbors say it’s not unusual to hear the horn blare away for 30 to 40 seconds without a break.

“We can't get him to blow the horn correctly...99% of the other trains are fine,” said Jerry Baker, who lives in a condo above the Encinitas station. 

He says the heavy horned engineer has been at it for at least 5 years, annoying all of his neighbors too. 

“The condo association formed a train committee and we started documenting this with decibel meters and everything.”

They went to the city council. They contacted Amtrak. But here we are years later, and the horn headache continues. The day we interviewed Jerry, it went off for about 37 seconds. 

“I just want someone to talk to him and say - hey - if you were a resident here, would you like somebody going through Encinitas, or anywhere, with a solid horn, full blast, no breaks? The answer would be no.”

According to the US Department of Transportation, there is actually something called the Train Horn Rule. 

When trains approach a public grade crossing, the rule states that a train's horn must be sounded in a standardized pattern of 2 long, one short, and one long blast that is no more than 20 seconds in advance of that crossing. 

Simply said, no horn should ever blow for more than 20 seconds and certainly not the way this engineer is doing it. 

“It's one long, solid obnoxious blast,” said Jerry with frustration.

Amtrak confirmed they received our request for a comment, but didn't get back to us with a statement. 

You can report violations online to the Department of Transportation. https://railroads.dot.gov/railroad-safety/federal-railroad-administration-alleged-violation-reporting-form

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