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Rail News: Passenger Rail

FRA issues alternative-design vehicle waiver to Denton County Transportation Authority


Yesterday, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) announced it approved the Denton County Transportation Authority’s (DCTA) request to operate Stadler GTW vehicles concurrent with traditional, federally compliant equipment. The waiver means that for the first time, lightweight low-floor vehicles will be permitted to operate in rail corridors concurrently with traditional vehicles, helping to expand commuter-rail options for U.S. transportation authorities, DCTA officials said in a prepared statement.

In 2009, the FRA’s Rail Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) prepared a set of technical criteria and procedures for evaluating passenger train-sets built to alternative designs that enable lighter, more fuel-efficient rail vehicles equipped with a crash energy management system to commingle with traditional equipment. The DCTA/Stadler U.S. Inc. alternative design waiver is the first comprehensive submittal that follows the RSAC Engineering Task Force procedures for Tier I equipment, DCTA officials said.

The waiver request “demonstrates that the enhanced crashworthiness and passenger protection systems inherent to DCTA’s new rail vehicles meet the latest and most stringent safety standards in the U.S.,” they said.

The authority, Stadler and LTK Engineering Services, DCTA’s vehicle consultant, have been working closely with the FRA to obtain the waiver since 2009. DCTA purchased 11 diesel-electric GTW 2/6 articulated rail vehicles from Stadler. The authority has partnered with Stadler to make modifications and enhancements to the GTW vehicle to comply with required safety guidelines.

“Our efforts to operate the nation’s first alternative compliant vehicle demonstrate not only our commitment to increased safety for our passengers and operators, but to improving safety for the commuter-rail industry,” said DCTA President Jim Cline.

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