You are seriously not getting it, WADR. The Acela Express is not the same thing as the TGV—it runs on shared-use tracks throughout its whole route. The TGV runs at high speeds on LGVs only—it does not run at 186 or 196 mph on the shared use tracks (it runs at the same speed as all the other trains). The only completely closed system that I know of is the Shinkansen in Japan. If the AE did have separate high-speed tracks and ran faster than 125 on those tracks alone and not anywhere else, it would be subject to Tier I crashworthiness regs, because the point of the Tier II regs is for running faster than 125 mph on shared-use rails.
I do know that Acela runs on shared tracks and I am well aware of the operating systems and how the TGV operate in France and Belgium. I know that the AE is not the TGV (the overhead bins are too nice on the AE
). I know that the entire NE corridor is shared track. I know the TGV only runs at high speeds on its dedicated ROW. BTW - did you know that the German LGV are designed to operate with freight trains as well?
However, the way I read the regs, the FRA would require Tier II even if the AE ran on a dedicated line if it shared any
track, at any
speed, at any
point simply because at some
point the AE would run at >125 , even if it only at >125 mph on a dedicated line like the TGV. Perhaps it would help me to spell it out.
You have a line from Washington to Richmond (for illustrative purposes only) -
Shared track - Washington Union to Fredricksburg (current AMTRAK, CSX, and VRE service) operates at conventional speeds (i.e. 79 mph)
New Dedicated line - Fredrickburgs to Richmond Beltway. Operates >125 mph - only passenger trains (i.e. AE service extended to Richmond) - no CSX, no VRE/
SHared Track - Richmond Beltway to Richmond Station. Operates at conventional speeds
Because the train operates at >125 mph, even if it travels at that speed on a dedicated track with no other types of trains (the new line between Fredricksburg and the Richmond Beltway) and operates at conventional speeds on the truly shared track (i.e. Washington to Fredricksburg and Richmond Beltway to Richmond), it is still subject to FRA Tier II requirements because at some
point along its route it shares track (i.e. it has an interchange with the national rail system). The reasoning, as I can tell, is that because there is a possibility a freight train operating on the shared use track (say around Fredricksburg) might
end up on the dedicated track because of a malfunctioning switch, it might
encounter a train traveling >125 mph, and therefore the passenger train should be able to survive the collison in the event that this scenario occurs - hence the requirement for Tier II. Do you understand now my reading of the regs?
The way the FRA has structured the regs requires the construction of Shinkasen type system that is prohibitively expensive and is a classic case of a bureaucracy say "Yes, you can build that (i.e. HSR) - you just have to follow these regulations that make it all but impossible." You might say "oh that is completely unrealistic - no one would be that rigid" - to which I would reply "Yeah, right." Just look at the new Georgia Department of Transportation design guidelines for construction of Truck-Only Toll lanes (elevated lanes with 80' required for two way operation - two 14' shoulders and one 12' travel lane per directio - along the I-285 Perimeter around Atlanta). Maybe I"m just cynical about how the government bureaucracy operates. Probably comes from too much experience dealing with government regulations and their implementation.
Disclaimer: I deal with transportation policy implementation on a daily basis as part of my job
Disclaimer2: I was on the ICE from Basel to Cologne and the Thalys from Cologne to Brussels on Monday
Atlanta - within two and a half hours of . . . the edge of its suburbs