The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) plans to revise federal rail safety regulations to allow for the installation of brake systems capable of preventing derailments and shortening stopping distances.
The electronically controlled pneumatic (ECP) brake systems "are to trains what antilock brakes are to automobiles and they provide better control," said FRA Administrator Joseph H. Boardman.
ECP brakes are applied uniformly and virtually instantaneously on every rail car throughout the train, rather than sequentially from one rail car to the next as is done with current air brake technology.
The system provides improved train control when braking and can reduce stopping distances up to 60%, Boardman said.
The FRA intends to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking next year to revise the federal brake system safety standards to encourage railroads to invest in and deploy ECP brake technology.
A new report on the benefits of ECP brakes can be found at www.fra.dot.gov