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Rail News: Federal Legislation & Regulation

FRA updates safety standards for high-speed rail


The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) yesterday proposed updated safety standards for high-speed passenger trains.

The proposed updates were announced as the nation looks to add high-speed trains that can travel up to 220 mph and replace its aging passenger fleet.

Representing nearly a decade of work by the FRA's passenger-rail division, the proposals would establish a new category of passenger equipment — Tier III — for trains traveling up to 220 mph, according to an FRA press release.

The updates would offer an alternative method for evaluating how well passengers and crews are protected in an accident, often called crashworthiness. The public, railroad industry, railroad labor, manufacturers and other stakeholders will have an opportunity to provide feedback and comment on the proposed rule during the next 60 days.

"We look forward to hearing from everyone on how this proposal can help our country build a stronger passenger rail network – one that is not only faster but allows for new technologies to make passenger trains even safer," said FRA Administrator Sarah Feinberg.

In addition to measuring a train's crashworthiness, the proposed rules would allow crashworthiness to be evaluated based on it meeting an equivalent level of safety achieved through crash energy management technology or other innovative engineering methods.

Although Tier III trains will be required to have exclusive track to operate at speeds above 125 mph, the new standards will allow Tier III trains to safely share track with current Tier I and Tier II commuter, intercity and Acela trains. Compatibility between equipment types is a key strategy to allow trains to share existing corridors to reach downtown stations, FRA officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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