FRA Issues Long-Awaited Rail Safety Standards

Posted on May 17, 1999

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has at long last released its first-ever comprehensive list of federal passenger railroad standards. The new rules, worked out with industry input, contain safety requirements that will have to be met by Amtrak and all commuter railroads. Exempted are metro systems and tourist (i.e., vintage) railroads. Heretofore, passenger rail operators have had few federal rules and operate mostly with standard industry practices. Here are the basic changes under the new rules:

  • Comprehensive structural standards for passenger rail equipment, including the type of crash impact that cars must withstand.
  • Enhanced fire standards.
  • Mandates for passenger car emergency escapes.
  • New mechanical components inspection and testing rules. The FRA has recently come under fire from both the industry as well as Congress because the rule had been delayed. This issuance is known as an "interim final rule," because while the new regs are now law, the FRA is still soliciting public comment. For more on the new standards, see both the May and June issues of METRO Magazine. May is now available while June will be first distributed at the upcoming UITP Congress in Toronto.
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