Apply to stop train whistling at a public grade crossing

Train whistling is an important way to keep drivers, cyclists and pedestrians safe. The Canadian Rail Operating Rules require all trains to whistle whenever they approach a public grade crossing.

In some cases, train whistles bother people who live nearby. Municipalities may wish to stop the whistling to provide local residents with relief from the noise.

On this page

What you need to do

If you're a resident who wants to stop train whistling in your neighbourhood, contact your local municipality.

If you work for a municipality and are going ahead with a request to stop train whistling, you'll need to follow the numbered procedure below. It helps municipalities and railway companies collaborate to ensure grade crossings stay safe.

In brief, municipalities must:

  • Consult with the railway company about whether the request is feasible
  • Notify the public and others that it intends to stop the whistling
  • Pass a municipal council resolution

Detailed procedure

This procedure comes from:

This is the process:

  1. Citizen or community group expresses interest
    The municipality receives a request to stop train whistling at a specific area (one crossing or multiple crossings) along a railway corridor.
  2. Municipality consults with railway company
    To find out if the request is feasible, the municipality checks with the company that operates the railway line.
  3. Municipality notifies the public
    The municipality:
  4. Municipality and railway company assess the crossing(s)
    This assessment determines whether or not the area meets whistling cessation requirements in section 104 of the Grade Crossings Regulationsand Appendix D of the Grade Crossings Standards. The municipality and railway company may hire a professional engineer to help complete the assessment.
  5. Municipality and railway company agree the crossing(s) meet requirements
    If the municipality and the railway company do not agree that the crossing(s) meet(s) these requirements, they should try to resolve the conflict.
    • 5a. (optional): Municipality and railway request a final decision from Transport Canada
      If the disagreement continues, the municipality and the railway company can ask Transport Canada for a Ministerial Decision on whether the crossing(s) meet the requirements in section 104 of the Grade Crossings Regulations by emailing Transport Canada’s decision on the issue is final.
    • For Transport Canada to be able to review and come to a conclusion on whether the crossing(s) meet the requirements, it will need information that only the road authority and the railway company have. That is why it’s important that your submission for a Ministerial Decision includes the following information:
      • the names, mailing addresses, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses of all parties involved (i.e. the road authority, municipality, and railway company contact information)
      • a list of the crossing location(s) where you would like whistling to stop (road name, rail line name, mile point, railway company)
      • a short, clearly written statement that explains why there’s a dispute on whether the crossing(s) meet the requirements for whistling to stop.
    • In addition, the following information must be submitted for each crossing. The list below are technical items that the railway company must provide and are defined in the Grade Crossings Standards:
      • The Gate Arm Clearance time from the Stopping Sight Distance position: (in seconds)
      • The Gate Arm Clearance time from the Stopped position: (in seconds)
      • The calculated Warning System’s Warning time (minimum value): (in seconds)
      • The calculated Warning System Activation time: (N/A or in seconds)
      • A copy of the design calculations/board plans for the warning system times: (can be provided in letters, emails, reports etc.).
      • A confirmation of whether the warning system meets, or does not meet, the design and operating requirements in articles 12 to 16 and 10.4 of the Grade Crossings Standards, and section 105 of the Grade Crossings Regulations
        • If the warning system doesn’t meet these requirements, please include details for any specific requirement that haven’t been met
    • Other information that would help Transport Canada made a decision would include the following items:
      • Information that the railway company and the road authority shared under Sections 4 and 12 of the Grade Crossings Regulations
      • Letters, reports or emails from both parties that confirm that the area does not have repeated incidents of trespassing
      • Copy of bylaw documents that support whistling stopping, when applicable
      • Proof that the railway company and road authority or municipality have been consulted
      • Proof that the relevant associations or organizations have been notified
  6. Municipality passes a resolution
    If it's decided that the crossing(s) meet(s) requirements, the municipality:
  7. Railway company confirms whistling has stopped at the crossing(s) (within 30 days)
    When they receive the resolution, the railway company must:
    • issue special instructions to stop train whistling at the crossing(s)
    • notify Transport Canada's Rail Safety Directorate ( of the effective date of whistling cessation, with a copy of its special instructions
    • notify the municipality and/or road authorities in writing of the whistling cessation, not later than 30 days after the day the whistling stops
  8. Municipality and railway company both ensure the right safety conditions are met
    If the municipality and company do not maintain the crossing(s) according to requirements in the Railway Safety Act and Grade Crossings Regulations, a Transport Canada Rail Safety Inspector may order that train whistling start again.

Contact us

Transport Canada
Rail Safety Branch
Mailstop: ASR
427 Laurier Avenue Street West
Ottawa, Ontario  K1A 0N5

Telephone: 613-998-2985
Toll-free: 1-844-897-RAIL (1-844-897-7245)
Facsimile: 613-990-7767