Idling trains become noisy nightmare in Farmington neighborhood

Neighbors in Farmington are hoping for help getting rid of a noise that keeps them up at night.

They’ve complained about idling trains for more than a year in the North Creek neighborhood and about 30 homes are within earshot of the tracks, with several more under construction.

The problem they have is when train engines stop right near their homes instead of just a couple hundred yards further down the tracks where a sound barrier would protect them.

The noise from a train headed nowhere is a nightmare for people living close to the tracks in Farmington.

"It's impossible to sleep through the night with that going on, let alone do anything normal during the day," said a mother who wanted to stay anonymous.

"It can be quite actually quite loud," said Rodd Johnson. "You're like, 'Wow.' And so it's this constant vibration and noise based upon a spot that they don't need to be on."

Johnson is one of the neighbors asking the city to force Union Pacific to keep its idling trains just a little further north, past the overpass at 195th St.

"On the other side where the earth berms from the road, you don't hear anything," Johnson said.

For decades, Johnson says trains have stopped in the area for crew swaps.

He says engineers have told him it’s more convenient to use the new development’s walking path south of the overpass than the old dirt road to the north they previously used.

"It's super frustrating," he said.

The tracks lead right into Union Pacific’s railyard in South St. Paul.

"We’ve not had a crew change spot under the overpass, but apologize for any inconvenience neighbors may experience as a result of living near rail operations," the company's communications department told us in an email.

But neighbors say they’re used to the brief roar of trains driving through.

"It doesn't impact us," Johnson said. "It's kind of like 'that train went through.'"

It’s long-term sounds and smells of idling that get them.

"We've had them as long as a week, continuous operation," Johnson said. "They never shut them down."

The city has asked Union Pacific to keep idling trains on the other side of the overpass.

But neighbors are asking for signs and an ordinance so the request would be enforceable.