BRUNSWICK — The Town Council will invite the owners, operators and regulators who oversee the Amtrak Downeaster to a special meeting to discuss lessening noise from late-night trains.
Councilor Sarah Brayman proposed the face-to-face recently night after months of emails failed to remedy the trains waking of residents at night.
Since an Amtrak layover near Bouchard Drive and Stanwood Street started operating last November, west Brunswick residents have complained about being awakened by trains sounding their horns at nearby crossings and as they enter the barn at night.
Some of them are not surprised; they opposed the barn’s construction for fear it would cause disruption.
At that time, residents and councilors said Patricia Quinn, executive director of the Northern New England Passenger Rail Authority, told them the barn would dampen noise from idling trains, but didn’t mention an increase in the federally mandated horns required at street crossings and as trains enter the layover facility.
“(Quinn) sold me on a way to reduce idling and fumes, but never brought up the horn noise,” Councilor Steve Walker said.
“This is a plea for help,” John Howell, a Bouchard Drive resident and father of two young children, told the council Monday. “They didn’t listen to us citizens then, so please, help us.”
Councilors were sympathetic to the concerns – many reported they have also been awakened by trains – but are unsure how much control they have over the frequency and severity of the horns, and will be looking for more clarity at the proposed meeting.
The council is also embarking on a long-term solution of imposing quiet zones at problem intersections, specifically at Union Street, Stanwood Street and Church Road.
Councilor Jane Millett repeated her suspicion that the issue is an Amtrak oversight problem.
Brayman said she spoke to an engineer who suggested train operators may be able to reduce the intensity of the blasts.