It was another sleepless night for many residents in Guelph’s Junction neighbourhood thanks to CN Rail trains blasting their ear-piercing horn during overnight shunting work.
The work in the area of Edinburgh and Paisley roads started last week but for the past two nights, the trains have been blaring the horn across each crossing, just steps away from homes.
About a dozen fed-up residents staged a protest on the tracks on Tuesday at around 5 a.m. and prevented the slow-moving train from crossing the road.
“We said: ‘we’re not moving until you shut [off] the horn and you agree to stop doing this,” said Stefanie Clark, who lives next to the tracks.
“We’ve lived here for 16 years. There are residents that have been here for 20-30 years — they can handle a signal and occasional movement at night, it’s the four or five hours of train horn that is waking up the entire city.”
There have been reports of the horn being heard in the city’s east end and even as far away as Guelph Lake.
Clark said Guelph police were called by rail employees, but no tickets were handed out and the small protest eventually dispersed.
So we went out into the wee hours of the morning (4:45am) to talk to @CNRailway about it & the story was different; that they ''have to use the horn'' & that it's ''in the manual.'' We just want sleep. That's not unreasonable. pic.twitter.com/ynlako9zI0
CN Rail has given little explanation as to why the horn is necessary and Ward 3 Coun. Phil Allt is demanding answers.
“I think CN is acting with very little consideration for the residents and that’s just not acceptable,” he said in an interview on Tuesday morning.
In a statement, CN Rail apologized for the “inconveniences” and said they will continue to engage with the city and review its operations.
Allt hopes the complaints will be heard by Transport Minister Marc Garneau and encouraged residents to contact MP Lloyd Longfield’s office.
In a tweet, Longfield said he has spoken with CN Rail’s senior management and asked them to look at all options to find a solution.
I just got off the phone with CNR senior mgmt to discuss the construction issues in Guelph, shifting from day to evening, addressing local issues around traffic during the day or noise at night. Ive asked CNR to look at all options to find a solution. @CamGuthrie @PhilAlltWard3
Guelph residents who have been kept awake by blaring train horns in the middle of the night may get a better night's sleep on Tuesday.
Lloyd Longfield, the member of parliament for Guelph, says CN will be stationing flag people at railway road crossings in the area overnight so that trains can pass safely through without making too much noise.
People living near the tracks have complained about train horns sounding around 1 a.m. and 2 a.m. since the start of the week.
"Like everyone else in Guelph I heard horns and whistles on Sunday night and I left Guelph [at] about 4:30 a.m. to come to Ottawa, and by the time I got to Ottawa I was getting messages from constituents who hadn't had a very good night's sleep," Longfield said.
In a statement to CBC Kitchener-Waterloo on Monday, a spokesperson for CN said the company is making "significant investment" to improve rail infrastructure in the area.
Longfield said he was told in a technical briefing with the company on Monday that maintenance was needed on the track gauge — the space between the rails.
The city is helpless to enforce its noise bylaws because rail operation falls under federal jurisdiction.
He received another update from the CN Tuesday afternoon. Longfield said the company is now looking to adjust its work schedule, but in the meantime will continue to work through the night with the flag people in place to ensure safety at road crossings.
"They're looking at a longer-term, medium-term solution of having the hours of operation shifted so that their not doing that work throughout the night," Longfield told CBC News.
"If this continues we're thinking of going to stay with friends somewhere," Clark said.
"But [Tuesday night] they will be continuing to do the work, so there will be some noise from the cars moving, but there won't be whistles and horns as they work through the details of shifting work hours on the tracks."
CN spokesperson Alexandre Boulé confirmed in an email to CBC News on Tuesday that the company "will be taking immediate action" by setting up manual safety measures at rail crossings in the evening.
"This will stop the need to use whistles during the night. This measure will be in place until new operating hours can be implemented," Boulé wrote.
"As soon as it is possible, CN will implement new summer operating hours. Once in place, the new operational schedule will only use train whistles at more appropriate hours."
In the meantime, Longfield said he is reminding people to avoid the area while the work is being completed.
Jeff Hladun, who lives a few blocks away, said about 8 or 10 people were standing on the tracks when he went down to the tracks just after 4:20 a.m.
"It's Guelph, right. We're all super raging and mad, but you wouldn't know that by talking to anybody there because we're all just trying to plead our case," Hladun told CBC News.
Longfield said CN police will be monitoring the situation going forward to keep people out of danger.
"That's a really unsafe situation for people to be on tracks when operators are working through nightshifts and operating at dusk or early dawn periods," Longfield said.
CN did not comment on the early morning protest, but apologized to residents for any "inconveniences and frustrations."
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