New FRA Rules

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Oct 5, 2009
Los Angeles, CA
Excerpted from the Midwest High Speed Rail Association (






Here's some great news to kick off the holiday season: The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has finalized new regulations that will make it easier and more affordable to bring modern train designs to the United States. They also make it possible for high-speed trains to use conventional tracks for part of their journey, which is critical to launching and expanding a high-speed network.

For generations, outdated U.S. safety regulations slowed or prevented the adoption of modern train designs already in use around the world. These new rules remove those barriers, making it possible for American train operators to use "off-the-shelf" designs from the world's leading train equipment manufacturers with minimal modifications. (The FRA estimates the necessary changes will affect the cost of a new train by less than one percent.)


The FRA previously allowed certain trains to adopt these modern standards by applying for a waiver, which allowed TexRail and Caltrain to purchase modern trains. The new regulations allow these modern designs without the cumbersome waiver process.

The new regulations also enable high-speed trains to operate on existing, conventional tracks. This is an important tool in building a broad high-speed network with many destinations. Trains can travel at up to 220 mph on the new, dedicated high-speed line. They can then connect to existing tracks to finish their journey at conventional speeds.
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