Millbourne residents and Council members are fed up with the SEPTA Market-Frankford Line train blowing its horn throughout the day as it passes through the borough.
Resident Bill Mulgrew, who lives on Burd Ave., sparked a recent discussion about the train’s horn during public comment.
“The noise has been horrible,” Mulgrew said. “As they go past my house, they blow the whistle late at night at 11:30, 12:30, one o’clock.”
He said one night he had to shut the windows because a diesel fuel smell was wafting into his home, leading him to believe the train must have spilled something.
Borough Solicitor David Sander was skeptical that there was a spill.
Southeastern Pennsylvania Transportation Authority (SEPTA) representatives told him that they acknowledged the issue with the train horn blowing.
Sanders said SEPTA told him there were workers on the tracks, and the train is required to signal when it is coming so the workers know when to move out of the way.
Mayor Thomas Kramer responded that the train blows the horn for the A and B stops, and Millbourne is a B stop. The train blows the horn day and night every five minutes, he said.
When Council met with SEPTA to discuss Pope Francis’ visit, SEPTA said the horn would have to blow every three minutes, Kramer said. The train also did not stop in Millbourne during the papal visit.
Sanders advised that borough residents record the times and days that the horn blows in a journal and to take snippets of video or audio to accompany the documentation.
The workers are only on the tracks late at night and not in the day, he said.
Kramer said the issue is more than just horn-blowing late at night. The bigger problem is the train sounds the horn even when it does not stop.
SEPTA Public Information Manager Manuel McDonnell,responded that the transportation authority is willing to meet with Millbourne residents and officials who want to talk about the noise.
“We understand that this is a concern with members of the community, and we are willing to speak with them,” McDonnell said. “We’ve had a longstanding and good relationship with the Millbourne community.”
He said the train is required to blow the whistle every time the operator goes through a blind curve. This requirement is enforced by PennDOT and the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission.
McDonnell said these regulations have been used for as long as the Market-Frankford Line has been established.
“If that’s something that they (SEPTA) need to do, then the residents can’t live here anymore,” Kramer said. “It’s basically theft.”
He explained the “theft” as SEPTA “taking property values and throwing them out the window because nobody wants to live in a place where you’ve got those horns screaming day and night,” Kramer said.
McDonnell said the train sounds the horn during the morning and afternoon rush hours and at times when it does not stop at Millbourne.
Mulgrew disagrees, saying he hears the horn more than those times. He said the A train blows it outside of the two rush hours.
Kramer said the horns need to stop completely.
“I don’t want the horns blowing all day long like that,” Kramer said. “You can’t rent to people or have people buy homes when you’ve got a horn that’s ‘Waaaaah!’ every 10 minutes.”