Train Horn / Quiet Zone

In response to community concerns about noise the San Rafael and Novato City Councils established a Quiet Zone, which means:


  • The train will only sound the horn as it leaves a station or in the event of an emergency. Please talk to your family and neighbors about using extreme caution around the railroad tracks.

  • The horn will not blow at any intersection in Marin. San Rafael and Novato have worked with SMART to install all the required safety improvements at all the rail crossings.


On May 12, 2017 the City Council established a Quiet Zone for the Initial Operating Segment in San Rafael which will minimize the sound of train horns in our community.

The rail line in San Rafael is now an active railroad, with SMART performing safety and operational tests at the crossings with and without the train. We are currently working on all the steps necessary to implement a “Quiet Zone” by the time the SMART train begins commercial operations later this year. Until then, the train is required to sound the horn.

A Quiet Zone is a defined stretch of track where a train operator is not required to blow the train horn as it approaches vehicular or pedestrian crossings unless there is a hazard on the tracks. In December 2014, the City Council directed staff to pursue establish a Quiet Zone. Since then the City has worked with SMART to install all the required improvements at the rail crossings to make each of San Rafael’s Initial Operating Segment (IOS) crossings eligible for a Quiet Zone.

We submitted a Notice of Intent on behalf of San Rafael and Novato to establish a quiet zone on October 20, 2016 and the 60-day comment period ended December 19, 2016.

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