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.
"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.
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.
"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.
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.
"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 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.
CN Rail spokesperson Alexandre Boulé said Monday in an email that the company apologizes to residents for the inconvenience and will continue to engage with the city and review its operations in order to mitigate as much as possible frustrations by local residents and the City.
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.
Boulé said the condition of the rail infrastructure inherited after taking over the operation of the tracks from Goderich Exeter has necessitated a significant investment for safety and efficiency purposes.
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
People living along the CN rail corridor between Willow Road and Edinburgh Road South have been bothered by the noise of trains in recent weeks as needed repair work is done during the cooler night.
Many said the long and loud blasts would go off between midnight and 6 a.m. in the area of Edinburgh Road North and Paisley Street.
The problem escalated in the past few days as trains blast their train horns numerous times in the early hours of the morning, seriously affecting the sleep and lives of hundreds living in the area.
After a public outcry, protests and pressure from local politicians, CN Rail has agreed to stop using horns overnight.
Alexandre Boulé, CNs senior media relations and public affairs advisor, sent an email to CTV Kitchener that reads, in part:
CN apologizes to residents of the City of Guelph for the inconveniences and frustrations caused by recent changes in its operations. CN had to modify its operational schedule during summer months until the work to improve the quality, safety and efficiency of the current rail infrastructure that CN inherited when taking over operations in late 2018 is completed. As a result of the feedback from the community received, CN will be taking immediate action to mitigate the impact on local residents.
That means people, employed by CN, will be set up at crossings to manage the railways operations and direct traffic.
Those in attendance say CN rail employees contacted Guelph Police who showed up and asked the protesters to step off the tracks and let the train pass, which they did.
People – including children – stood near the tracks, preventing the trains from continuing through the community.
One of those protestors says they only went on the tracks after the train had stopped to discuss their concerns with the engineer.
Police have made an arrest two months after Gerald Robert Male was fatally shot at an address on Williams Street.