Monday, June 17, 2013

US approves HSR crashworthiness standards

Written by  Jennifer Nunez

THE Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) Railroad Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) has voted unanimously in favour of implementing new crashworthiness standards for high-speed trains that will operate in the United States.

The standards, which the FRA expects to publish later this year, will provide baseline safety requirements for high-speed trains operating at up to 350km/h on dedicated lines, and up to 200km/h on conventional infrastructure. Once finalised, the new standards will be applied on the Washington DC – New York – Boston Northeast Corridor and in California.

"This vote is another important step in advancing high-speed and intercity passenger rail in America," says outgoing US Transportation Secretary Mr Ray LaHood. "It brings us closer to new jobs and manufacturing opportunities to make high-speed rail equipment for use here at home and abroad."

FRA administrator Mr Joseph Szabo added "The RSAC's action is a continuation of the FRA's move away from prescriptive regulations towards more performance-based regulatory environment. I'd like to commend all members of RSAC for advancing these standards. They will better align our approach to passenger safety and the use of rail equipment with the rest of the world."

The proposed standards are intended to offer an alternative approach to existing rail vehicle crashworthiness requirements that have influenced the type of passenger equipment built and used in the US market for nearly a century. The proposed standards would establish performance-based requirements for an interoperable rail network, supporting the use of proven designs and advanced technologies from around the world, while ensuring a consistent, systematic approach to safety.

Since 2009, members of the RSAC have undertaken a review of existing crashworthiness requirements in order to identify a new, technology-neutral, performance-based approach that employs advanced design techniques such as crash energy management. Consensus on the proposed standards was reached by the RSAC Engineering Task Force, which is made up of a cross section of the domestic and international rolling stock supply industry, including 12 manufacturers.

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