At the end of November, the Federal Railroad Administration proposed updates to the passenger train safety standards relating to the operation of high-speed trains. In the works for nearly a decade, the proposal amends existing regulations that currently provide for passenger rail service in a shared right-of-way under separate standards: Tier I (speeds up to 125 mph) and Tier II (speeds up to 150 mph). The proposed amendments create a Tier III set of standards for high-speed passenger rail service at speeds up to 220 mph. The proposed amendments would require Tier III passenger trains to operate in an exclusive right-of-way without grade crossings at speeds between 125 mph and 220 mph, while allowing such trains to operate in a shared right-of-way at speeds up to 125 mph. This means that at such reduced speeds, Tier III trains could share the tracks with Tier I, Tier II, intercity and Acela trains. The proposed rule also establishes requirements for Tier III trainset structure, window glazing, brake systems, interior fittings and surfaces, emergency systems and cab equipment. FRA Administrator Sarah E. Feinberg noted “We look forward to hearing from everyone on how this proposal can help our country build a stronger passenger rail network – one that is not only faster but allows for new technologies to make passenger trains ever safer.” Comments to the FRA’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking are due 60 days from the date that the notice appears in the Federal Register.

To view the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on the FRA’s website, click here.