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Quiet Zone Information

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For everyone’s safety, locomotive horns enhance safety at highway-rail crossings by warning of approaching trains. The Federal Railroad Administration requires horns be sounded where trains approach public grade crossings. An exception is where a public authority has created a valid “quiet zone” as designated under the FRA’s Final Rule on the Use of Locomotive Horns at Highway/Rail Grade Crossings. The rule was published in the Federal Register April 27, 2005, Volume 70, No. 80, beginning on page 21,888 and became effective June 24, 2005. While Norfolk Southern does not endorse quiet zones, it does comply with provisions required in the federal law.

Learn more about the locomotive horn rule.


Community requests to Norfolk Southern for establishment of a new quiet zone

In order to engage Norfolk Southern resources, quiet zone administrative handling fees apply. Requesting parties will be provided a Quiet Zone Administrative Agreement that will include an estimated cost of effort for Norfolk Southern personnel (and/or Norfolk Southern consultants) to assist with the railroad coordination needed for your quiet zone.  Norfolk Southern assistance usually includes attending meetings and crossing diagnostics and reviewing minutes and the Notice of Intent and Notice of Establishment.  A deposit payment to Norfolk Southern for the estimated costs to cover these activities will be required prior to Norfolk Southern resources engaging on your project.

In order to start the coordination with Norfolk Southern (NS) required by the Horn Rule, please complete the Norfolk Southern Quiet Zone Project Initiation Form and email it to if your proposed quiet zones includes Norfolk Southern public grade crossings.

Note: The Quiet Zone Project Initiation Form must be submitted by the public agency responsible for maintenance of the public roads to be included in the proposed quiet zone.

Costs of quiet zone safety measures

NS’ primary concern at rail-highway grade crossings is the safety of the public and our personnel. The company will assist communities as necessary, but the responsible public authority must fully comply with federal rules. Public authorities pay for preliminary engineering, construction, maintenance, and replacement of active warning devices or their components that are installed at crossings when needed to meet quiet zone standards.

Examples of typical crossing signal modifications include:

Constant warning time with a two-quadrant gate system
$300,000 to $400,000

Four-quadrant gate systems
$300,000 to $500,000+

Basic active warning system including flashing lights and gates, constant warning time, power out indicator, and bungalow
$185,000 to $400,000

Basic interconnect
$5,000 to $15,000+

Annual maintenance
$4,000 to $10,000+