Posts Tagged ‘FRA high-speed rail rules’

FRA Issues New High-Speed Rail Rules

November 26, 2018

A final rule recent issued by the Federal Railroad Administration is expected to enable high-speed passenger trains to use existing railroad infrastructure.

The agency described the rule as seeking to promote safe and efficient operation of high-speed rail while also alleviating the cost of building new rail lines.

Under the rule, Tier III passenger trains can operate over the shared track at conventional speeds and as fast as 220 mph in areas with exclusive rights of way and without grade crossings.

The rule establishes minimum safety standards for Tier III trains, focusing on core, structural and critical system design criteria.

In a news release FRA officials said the rule will improve safety because of expected improvements made by the railroads to accommodate the operation of high-speed rail equipment in shared rights of way.

It is also expected to save more than $475 million in net regulatory costs.

“These new regulations were made possible by a wealth of FRA research, reinforcing our unwavering commitment to safety,” said FRA Administrator Ronald Batory. “FRA’s safety experts solicited input from industry stakeholders at numerous levels and took those ideas to develop standards supporting a new era in public transportation.”

Previous federal regulation gave U.S. rail companies limited procurement options or forced them to seek waivers from regulations to use newer technologies.

The FRA continues to define Tier I trains as those operating in shared rights-of-way at speeds up to 125 mph.

It also allows “state-of-the-art” alternative designs for equipment operating at those conventional speeds. Tier II trains are defined as those traveling 125-160 mph, an increase from the previous 150 mph limit.

FRA Wants Guidance on High-Speed Rail Rules

June 2, 2017

The Federal Railroad Administration is seeking guidance from the White House before it issues standards for high-speed rail lines.

The FRA has been working on the new rules for several months but has held them back because of a Trump administration requirement that agencies eliminate two regulations for every new regulation that they issue.

A news report this past week published The Bureau of National Affairs, a division of Bloomberg, quoted the FRA’s chief safety officer, Robert Lauby, as saying that the high-speed regulations are “complete or ready to be issued,” but the agency lacks an appointed administrator or deputy administrator.

“We want to get some new leadership. We want to get some consistency and have some more direction,” Lauby said. “There’s more questions that need to be answered before we will have a firm way forward.”

The proposed high-speed rail rules were released last November and are designed to create a new tier of safety standards that allow passenger rail service at speeds up to 220 mph along lines shared with commuter and other rail.

At the present, the fastest train in America is Amtrak’s Acela Express, which hits 150 mph in some places in the Northeast Corridor.

Lauby said the rail industry wants the regulations released, calling them “well-liked” because they will provide cost-savings and were developed in coordination with rail and affected industries.

“Rather than have a big question mark, this provides predictability,” Lauby said. “They know exactly what they need to build. They can do accurate costs estimates, and they can have good proposals, and they can compete with each other.”