The commotion does serve a purpose -- each type of honk is different and indicates a safety message to approaching trains. 


o → short sound

=→ long sound 

Succession of short sounds : an attempt to attract attention to the train. It is used when persons or livestock are on the track at other-than-road crossings at grade.

= : When train is stopped. 

== : Train releases brakes and proceeds

o o : Acknowledgment of any signal not otherwise provided for

o o o : When train is stopped: means backing up, or acknowledgment of a hand signal to back up

o o o o : A request for a signal to be given or repeated if not understood

= o o o : Instruction for flagman to protect rear of train

= = = = : The flagman may return from west or south

= = = = = : The flagman may return from east or north

= = o = : Train is approaching public crossings at grade with engine in front

o = : Inspect the brake system for leaks or sticking brakes

= o : Train is approaching men or equipment on or near the track, regardless of any whistle prohibitions

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