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Rail News: High-Speed Rail

FRA releases final safety regs, ROD for Texas bullet train

Texas Central, a private company, has proposed building an elevated high-speed rail system that would transport riders from Dallas to Houston in about 90 minutes.
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The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has released the final Rule of Particular Applicability (RPA) and Record of Decision (ROD) for Texas Central Railroad LLC, bringing the private company's proposal to build a Dallas-to-Houston high-speed rail (HSR) line closer to construction.

The RPA provides the regulatory framework for the railroad, establishing a comprehensive set of safety requirements that will govern the HSR system's signal and trainset control, track, rolling stock, operating rules and practices, system qualifications and maintenance, Texas Central officials said today in a press release.

The RPA is based on a systems approach to safety that incorporates accident avoidance measures that are significantly more stringent than those required for conventional U.S. rail operations, they said.

Texas Central has proposed building a rail system that will replicate the Japanese Tokaido Shinkansen HSR system as operated by the Central Japan Railway Co. Texas Central officials have said they chose this system because of its reputation as being one of the safest and most punctual train systems in the world. In its 55-year history, it has transported more than 10 billion passengers with no operational passenger fatalities and no accidents since it was deployed, they said.

In its ruling, the FRA noted that "this regulation was written specifically for this technology to maintain the integrity of the baseline safety case" of Central Japan Railway's Tokaido Shinkansen and establishes "regulatory requirements codifying the service-proven technological, operational and maintenance aspects of the Tokaido Shinkhansen HSR system."

Meanwhile, the ROD completes the FRA's environmental review of the project that began in 2014. A final environmental impact statement for the project was released in late May.

The ROD also formally selects the alignment that Texas Central will follow between Dallas and Houston. The FRA selected the Build Alternative A alignment in the ROD, which will be published soon in the Federal Register.

"The release of the final RPA and ROD . . . represents years of work by countless individuals, affirming a very thorough and careful federal regulatory  process that will make Texas Central Railroad the first high-speed rail system to be implemented in the United States," said Carlos Aguilar, the railroad's chief executive officer.

Texas Central is ready to build and will begin construction "as soon as possible to contribute to the nation's COVID-19 recovery," company officials said.

Contact Progressive Railroading editorial staff.

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