New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in 2015

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New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in 2015

Postby Fan Railer » Fri Nov 01, 2013 11:55 am

http://nextcity.org/theworks/entry/mode ... s-2015-fra
For decades, the Federal Railroad Administration had effectively banned modern European trains from American mainline rail networks. European and Asian manufacturers have been slimming down their rolling stock for years to improve performance — energy efficiency, braking and acceleration, even track and train maintenance — while U.S. transit agencies were stuck with bulked-up versions of sleek European cars, weighted down and otherwise modified to meet FRA regulations.

The Acela, on Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor, was perhaps the most notorious victim of the old rules. David Gunn once called it a “high-velocity bank vault” for its bulky design, and many attributed its maintenance woes to its untested design, customized to meet U.S. safety regulations. But every commuter and intercity train has to comply with the rules, and most suffer, to one degree or another, from high costs and poor performance.

But not for much longer. Beginning in 2015, regulators and manufacturers expect the FRA to allow modern European designs on tracks throughout the country, running side by side with heavy freight at all times of day. There will be no special signaling requirements for trains purchased under the new rules, although a separate requirement for more advancing anti-collision signaling, called positive train control, is set to kick in around the same time.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby DutchRailnut » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:27 pm

note how it says "expect" so nothing is for sure that regulations will be relaxed.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby bostontrainguy » Fri Nov 01, 2013 12:33 pm

Finally some sensibility that just might kick-start American high-speed rail plans. Hopefully we can rebuild the NEC for off-the-shelf proven technology that already works well.

Still in question is the possibility of using "wide-body" Asian equipment? This is the way that California is going and would be great if Amtrak could follow with similar equipment. Amtrak plans to widen track centers as part of it's high speed plans anyway.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby Fan Railer » Fri Nov 01, 2013 1:21 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:note how it says "expect" so nothing is for sure that regulations will be relaxed.

I was going to put that in the title, but it wouldn't fit..... =_=
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby Adirondacker » Fri Nov 01, 2013 9:06 pm

bostontrainguy wrote:Finally some sensibility that just might kick-start American high-speed rail plans. Hopefully we can rebuild the NEC for off-the-shelf proven technology that already works well.


There isn't any off the shelf proven technology for the NEC unless you consider the one-off Sapsan trains off the shelf. Even those would have to be modified for North America. Or Shinkansen.

bostontrainguy wrote:Still in question is the possibility of using "wide-body" Asian equipment? This is the way that California is going and would be great if Amtrak could follow with similar equipment. Amtrak plans to widen track centers as part of it's high speed plans anyway.


Asian trains are narrow stubby things unless you are considering Shinkansen and variants. Which are nominally 11 feet wide while a standard North America passenger car is nominally 10'6". And 85 feetish long. They both use 48 inch high platforms. Some of them even run on 25kV 60Hz electricity which anything other than Sunnyside Queens to Washington DC is going to have except in some constrained places where it will be 12.5kV and 60Hz.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby GE45tonner » Fri Nov 01, 2013 10:49 pm

I think one of the most important changes we will see is more efficient DMU/EMU use with commuter rail.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby Ken W2KB » Sat Nov 02, 2013 7:18 pm

DutchRailnut wrote:note how it says "expect" so nothing is for sure that regulations will be relaxed.


Yes. From the article it appears that the draft proposal is under internal review. Unless and until there is promulgated a notice of proposed rulemaking, the public will not know what the feds are thinking, and the NOPR must be evaluated by the FRA in light of public comments. 2015 may be doable, but it also may be optimistic unless there is someone of influence pushing this agenda behind the scenes.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby gokeefe » Wed Feb 26, 2014 1:29 am

Ken W2KB wrote:2015 may be doable, but it also may be optimistic unless there is someone of influence pushing this agenda behind the scenes.


I think you can be quite confident that the Vice President and his staff are paying attention to this issue as they always have with passenger rail and high speed rail in particular.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jun 12, 2014 7:20 am

I checked the FRAs online docket at the Federal Register and couldn't find anything regards the new regulations. Have there been any indications that a draft rule will be forthcoming?
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby jt42cwr » Thu Jun 12, 2014 11:39 am

GE45tonner wrote:I think one of the most important changes we will see is more efficient DMU/EMU use with commuter rail.


I hope the regs stay as they are. Who wants a load more boring soul-less multiple unit trains all over North America, Europe is already plagued by them. Looks like I might have to go even further afield in search of real trains.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby ExCon90 » Thu Jun 12, 2014 1:51 pm

As gokeefe mentioned above, the Federal Register is the place to look. (I haven't checked it in years, but I'm sure the whole thing must be on a government website by now.) After the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking appears, there will be something like 60 to 180 days for public comment. Some time after that, and after supposedly giving due consideration to the public comments, the FRA will be required to publish the final rules -- this is where the White House may be able to influence how fast the wheels grind -- and the Federal Register is where they'll first appear.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby Adirondacker » Fri Jun 13, 2014 3:51 am

jt42cwr wrote:I hope the regs stay as they are. Who wants a load more boring soul-less multiple unit trains all over North America, Europe is already plagued by them. Looks like I might have to go even further afield in search of real trains.


people who want to go places and care about how fast they get there not how the train looks?
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jun 13, 2014 4:18 am

ExCon90 wrote:As gokeefe mentioned above, the Federal Register is the place to look. (I haven't checked it in years, but I'm sure the whole thing must be on a government website by now.)


Indeed it is. Here is the link to the Federal Railroad Administration's Online Docket at the Federal Register, which brands itself as the "Daily Journal of the United States Government". Yes, even the bureaucracy of the bureaucracies has embraced the digital age.

Also of note, when citing federal regulations or titles of the U.S. Code I prefer to use authenticated electronic documents produced by the Government Printing Office, the official publisher of U.S. Government information. Other resources such as the Legal Information Institute at Cornell University provide some excellent cross references to case law but their own information is not considered "official".

Returning to the topic at hand.....I think in general we have yet to absorb the full significance that this regulatory change will make to the prevalence of high speed rail in the United States. Until now it has been the sole domain of Amtrak and it has been considered an expensive and exotic option at best, often requiring heavy government subsidies for capital investment. The likely lower cost of rolling stock, combined with lower operating costs has the potential to radically change the cost-benefit equation.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby jt42cwr » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:12 pm

Adirondacker wrote:
jt42cwr wrote:I hope the regs stay as they are. Who wants a load more boring soul-less multiple unit trains all over North America, Europe is already plagued by them. Looks like I might have to go even further afield in search of real trains.


people who want to go places and care about how fast they get there not how the train looks?


"Normals" might do. I'm not a "normal", I'm a railfan so I do care about those sort of things. I have visited the US several times solely to travel on loco-hauled trains, but if everything was to be replaced by EMU's and DMU's I wouldn't imagine I would return. They have ruined the UK and most of Europe's train services from a railfan perspective as they offer very little compared to a varied fleet of locomotives and rolling stock.
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Re: New FRA Regs Clear European Style Trains on US Rails in

Postby gokeefe » Fri Jun 13, 2014 12:48 pm

jt42cwr wrote:
Adirondacker wrote:
jt42cwr wrote:I hope the regs stay as they are. Who wants a load more boring soul-less multiple unit trains all over North America, Europe is already plagued by them. Looks like I might have to go even further afield in search of real trains.


people who want to go places and care about how fast they get there not how the train looks?


"Normals" might do. I'm not a "normal", I'm a railfan so I do care about those sort of things. I have visited the US several times solely to travel on loco-hauled trains, but if everything was to be replaced by EMU's and DMU's I wouldn't imagine I would return. They have ruined the UK and most of Europe's train services from a railfan perspective as they offer very little compared to a varied fleet of locomotives and rolling stock.


I doubt there is going to be any loss of variety anytime soon in U.S. passenger rail. If anything the current legal scheme encourages the states to adopt the services and equipment to their own needs, which produces significant diversity in equipment choices.
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