‘It’s just annoying everyone’: Scarborough residents complain about GO Train whistles after policy change

Residents say a policy change made to increase safety at train and traffic intersections in Scarborough is becoming a nuisance.Pat Taney reports.

By Pat Taney

For 33 years, Tamra Harris has lived near the GO Train tracks that cross over Manse Road in Scarborough, and has grown accustomed to the noise.

“It’s common to hear the trains whiz by, but that used to be all we heard,” said Harris.

Now, more sounds are prompting her and neighbours to speak out. Every 10 to 15 minutes a series of loud train whistles go off.

“It’s just constant,” she said. “Anywhere from five to 10 whistles each time, day in and day out. It’s never been this bad.”

The timing wasn’t great for Harris, who became a new mom two months ago.

“As a new parent you’re already sleep deprived,” Harris said. “This is just making it impossible.”

Residents say they’ve reached out to Metrolinx for answers, but have been unable to get any.

So, Harris reached out to CityNews instead.

According to Metrolinx, it’s all due to a new policy enacted last month following a series of safety concerns. On Nov. 17, a suspected drunk driver abandoned her car on the tracks which collided with a GO train. The driver escaped without serious injury.

“In addition, there have been instances of other safety issues,” a Metrolinx spokesperson told CityNews. “Such as drivers turning onto Copperfield Road and executing a three-point turn over the tracks to return north on Manse Road. As a result of these incidents, a comprehensive safety review of the crossing was required.”

The review found the tracks at these intersections need to be modified and work is being done to do that.

“While these improvements are being implemented, whistles are required to maintain driver and cyclist safety at this crossing,” a spokesperson said.

Metrolinx is now working with the City of Toronto to increase safety at the intersections, which already have train gates, lights and bells.

“In order to stop the whistles, there are further actions required that fall under City of Toronto control as Manse and Copperfield are city streets. We are collaborating with the city as they work to ensure the crossing meets the safety level that would allow the whistles to stop.”

Metrolinx also says several other measures have already been put in place to increase safety.

“We have already reduced rail speeds to 50 mph, removed all vegetation and obstructions to sight lines on Metrolinx property, and we have installed additional lighting at the crossing along Metrolinx’s right of way,“ a transit agency spokesperson explained.

As for the rest of the work, no completion timeline was given by Metrolinx but residents who reached out to their elected officials were told the hope is to have the work completed by spring.

As always if you have an issue, story or question you’d like us to look into, reach out to us here.

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