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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA amends track, passenger equipment safety standards

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) recently served notice that it's issuing a final rule to amend track and passenger equipment safety standards in order to promote the safe interaction of rail vehicles and track under a variety of conditions at speeds up to 220 mph.

To take effect July 11, the final rule revises standards for track geometry and safety limits for a vehicle's response to track conditions, enhances vehicle/track qualification procedures and adds flexibility for permitting high cant deficiency train operations through curves at conventional speeds, FRA officials said in a notice published in the Federal Register.

In addition, the rule institutes more cost-effective equipment qualification and in-service monitoring requirements, and clarifies that individuals qualified to inspect track need only understand the portions of the regulation relevant to the inspections they conduct and the work they perform.

"The rule accounts for a range of vehicle types that are currently in operation, as well as vehicle types that may likely be used in future high-speed or high cant deficiency rail operations, or both," FRA officials said. "The rule is based on the results of simulation studies designed to identify track geometry irregularities associated with unsafe wheel/rail forces and accelerations, thorough reviews of vehicle qualification and revenue service test data, and consideration of international practices."

An FRA analysis of the rule's economic impacts found it wouldn't adversely impact an existing operation or induce any net costs. The anticipated benefits relate to equipment procurement for passenger trains at speeds exceeding 90 mph; operations at high cant deficiency for passenger trains at speeds up to 90 mph; and streamlined testing requirements.

Petitions for reconsideration of the final rule must be received by the FRA on or before May 13. Comments in response to petitions for reconsideration must be received on or before June 26.

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More News from 3/26/2013