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National Transport Research OrganisationAug 10, 2023 11:32:32 AM1 min read

Train horn effectiveness and broader social effects

A project in conjunction with the Queensland University of Technology CARRS-Q, iMOVE, ACRI and the NTRO has looked into the effectiveness of train horns in warning a range of road users and the broader social effects of train horns in the community.

Earlier stages of this research surveyed a broad range of level crossings across Australia and train horn usage patterns. These findings informed a RISSB white paper on train horn practice. Additional driving simulator and virtual reality headset pedestrian simulation trials have been conducted to understand the effectiveness of train horns in informing a broad range of road users to an approaching train. Interestingly, the findings generally show train headlights are observed before train horn sounding in many of the test scenarios explored.

Train horns are utilized to improve safety at rail level crossings, however residents within railway environments are at risk of potential impacts including to their sleep patterns.

The current stage of the project is collecting objective data in a range of scenarios to understand where train horns may have unintended consequences. A wide-ranging online survey is currently underway and a series of actigraph sleep studies will be conducted later in the year to better understand any train horn impacts on regular sleep patterns.

Standardisation of train horn use and uniform practices across Australia will be considered in the research recommendations, building on the prior research conducted in previous train horn effectiveness projects.

To find out more about the project, contact