San José, Costa Rica, since 1956
Stop that train

Loud train whistles in San José traffic might be a good thing, says Sala IV

Costa Rica’s Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court, or Sala IV, rejected an appeal Monday filed by a citizen who hoped to ban the loud noise of local train whistles.

Anyone who has driven in San José’s Greater Metropolitan Area, where train tracks merge with vehicular traffic – often without signage and safety gates – will likely praise the ruling.

The plaintiff alleged that the noise affects the health of those who work and live in the surrounding areas of a suburb east of San José. Let there be no doubt – the trains’ blasts are sometimes deafening.

But Sala IV justices said the issue already has been discussed on several occasions, and they previously concluded that the noise does not exceed the limit established by law #2006-16628, which regulates a citizen’s right to peace.

Justices ruled that the sound produced by a train’s whistle is a part of social life, and residents are required to deal with it.

In addition, the loud sound of a whistle is intended to prevent accidents that can result in material and human loss, the court stated. Ya think?

Contact L. Arias at

Log in to comment

Ken Morris

I’d be curious to know what law 2006-16628 says, as well as more about the legal reasoning.

My impression is that Costa Rica has been slow to recognize noise pollution, and if memory serves, the court recently ruled that the noise of soccer games is good for the mental health of the people. It also recently ruled that train crossings must have stop lights. In short, there are a bunch of issues in play here.

Obviously, train whistles at crossings are for safety, but just as obviously for those who live or work near these crossings, the whistles are incredibly loud and annoying. This would seem a classic instance of the court needing to balance different interests, and I’m curious how it did so. It’s not a slam dunk.

0 0