Safety/Quiet Zone
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Recent Developments
For recent developments on the project click here .

North Beach has a Quiet Zone, now what about the rest of the City?
The City continues to push for a Quiet Zone for the entire City. This has been a long, bureaucratic and legal process, but the City has made tremendous headway in our efforts.

The California Public Utilizes Commission (CPUC) is currently reviewing the Preliminary Decision (PD) issued by an Administrative Law Judge last summer. Once the internal review is completed, the PD will be considered by the full CPUC, which is anticipated to occur in October 2013. Assuming the City receives a favorable decision from the CPUC, the Audible Warning System (AWS) will have all necessary approvals. The City has already received California Coastal Commission approval for the AWS system. For more information about what the AWS is, please see the below video, Audible Warning System Highlights.

In the meantime the OCTA is working with SCRRA to install the AWS and other safety improvements. This involves the coordination of track closures. The OCTA really wants to complete this work by the end of the year at the latest.

North Beach Receives Quiet Zone Designation

On December 21st the Quiet Zone went into effect for the North Beach Area. Thanks to a tremendous undertaking by dedicated members of our community, OCTA and The City of San Clemente, the train will not sound their horns (except in specific circumstances) at the North Beach pedestrian crossing at the end of Avenida Estacion, and at the vehicular crossing at Send De La Playa next to the North Beach Metrolink Station. The remaining pedestrian and vehicular crossings are being improved with supplemental safety measures with the intention to add them to the Quiet Zone in the future. Please use extra caution while driving/walking through railroad crossings since the horn that served as one of the warnings, will not be sounded routinely.

When would a train still blow its horn?
Communication efforts to the railroads and engineers are underway; however there may likely be an adjustment period once the quiet zone goes into effect. The standard horn pattern sounded for public railroad crossings is two long, one short and one long. A sounding of the train horn in this specific pattern would likely be considered a violation in an established quiet zone; however, it is also important to note that there still will be times when trains horns may be heard. Neighboring cities may not have established quiet zones so residents may still hear horns sounded in nearby areas.

In addition, train engineers are still permitted to sound the horn as a warning:

  • In an emergency
  • When there is a trespasser on the tracks
  • If the automatic warning devices are malfunctioning or out of service
  • In an area where construction or maintenance crews are along or within the railroad right-of-way
  • If there is a safety concern at the station (however the train is only required to ring the engine bell while pulling in and out of a passenger station) and
  • According to other Federal Railroad Administration requirements

  • Reporting a Train Violation
    In reporting a train horn violation within the Quiet Zone, it is important to provide as much information as possible. Unfortunately, violations may occur at any time, so if you are unable to provide all the information requested below, we will still use any information provided. The complaint will be kept on file with the City and forwarded to both the appropriate railroad and the Federal Railroad Administration with a request to take action. Information required to report a train horn violation includes:

  • Name of the specific railroad operator
  • Date and time of day
  • Railroad crossing location

    The City of San Clemente continues to complete improvements and pursue a Quiet Zone designation for the entire City. The City’s efforts have entailed a multi-pronged strategy that includes administrative approaches with the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC); legislative approaches with the federal and state governments; and evaluating infrastructure improvements. Councilmember Lori Donchak and Mayor Pro Tem Tim Brown serve as the City’s designated Quiet Zone representatives.

    The City is currently pursuing an Audible Warning System (AWS) as a feasible solution to reducing train horn noise and lessening the environmental impact the train horns have on residents, beach goes and trail users.

    Audible Warning System Highlights
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    The City of San Clemente has seven (7) pedestrian railroad crossings lining its beach trail that allow users to access the coastline safely. In an effort to reduce or eliminate train horn noise at these crossings, the City in partnership with OCTA is pursuing the implementation of an Audible Warning System (AWS).

    The City of San Clemente is considering the implementation of an AWS at its seven (7) rail crossings. An AWS is a stationary horn system at railroad crossings that sounds off a warning, directed towards pedestrians when a train approaches. While in place, it substitutes for the sound of a train horn.

    Safety Tips
    It is very important to stay clear of the railroad right of way. Never use tracks as a path or walkway. Not only will this cause the engineer to blow the horn, but it is dangerous and illegal.

    When pulling up to a railroad crossing, do not drive all the way up to the crossing gates. You are required to stop and wait at the “Stop Here” signs, or you will receive a traffic ticket. An engineer that observes vehicles pulled all the way up to the crossing gate will blow the horn to warn motorists of their approach.

    Click Here to view additional information on how to enhance rail safety in our community.

    Metrolink hotline phone number
    Phone number to call for malfunctioning grade crossings Metrolink hotline phone number (888) 446-9721.

    Background Information
    Click the links below for more information.

    Wayside Horn Noise Study Report
    Minutes for September 22nd Public Hearing
    Agenda for September 22nd Public Hearing
    Status Report for Establishing a Safety/Quiet Zone – Staff Report July 7, 2009
    Safety/Quiet Zone – PowerPoint Presentation July 7, 2009
    Video – Safety/Quiet Zone Status Update Presentation – Council Meeting July 7, 2009

    Additional links

    Notice of Intent for the Quiet Zone
    Annual Report for the Beach Safety Enhancement Project
    Community Development Director Letter to the Federal Railroad Administration(FRA)
    In Town Living Article
    Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) Final Rule Document
    Concept Study For The Grade Separation of Existing At-Grade Pedestrian Crossings

    More information
    Please contact Jim Holloway for more information at 949.361.6106 or via email at

    City of San Clemente
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    Community Development | 910 Calle Negocio, Suite 100, San Clemente, CA, 92673 | Phone (949) 361-6100  |  FAX (949) 361-8281
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