San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Constitutional Chamber Reinforces Noise-Limit Order

The Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court (Sala IV) has ruled in favor of a couple who claims the horn of the San José train makes too much noise and prevents their baby girl from sleeping. The ruling reinforces an order emitted by Sala IV justices when the suit was first filed.

The court ruled that the Costa Rican Railroad Institute (INCOFER) must reduce the horn from current levels of as much as 120 decibels to “reasonable limits,” according to the daily La Nación, and eventually place lights at intersections of streets with the train line, which runs from the eastern San José suburb of San Pedro to the western suburb of Pavas.

Pedro Chaves and Alejandra Castro, who live 20 meters from the train tracks in Sabana Sur, a western San José neighborhood, filed the suit against INCOFER earlier this year. Sala IV justices agreed to study the suit and issued an immediate order to INCOFER to comply with Health Ministry noise regulations (TT, March 24). Chaves told La Nación he is pleased that the court recognized rights to “a healthy environment,” but criticized the ruling for not indicating a deadline by which INCOFER must comply.

INCOFER President Miguel Carabaguíaz criticized the ruling for not specifying the levels to which the institute must reduce the horn, and told the daily that reducing the volume could cause more accidents because drivers don’t respect road signs. However, the earlier Sala IV order specified that the horn must comply with Public Health Ministry industrial noise regulations (65 decibels between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., and 45 decibels overnight).

Since the diesel train, inactive for a decade, began operations last year (TT, Oct. 14, 2005), 15 train-related car accidents have occurred, according to La Nación.


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