Holy smokes! Have the FRA bureaucrats finally seen the light?
A new report Technical Criteria and Procedures for Evaluating the Crashworthiness and Occupant Protection Performance of Alternatively Designed Passenger Rail Equipment looks at standardizing metrics for transit agencies wanting to use non-compliant rolling stock.
As explained in the Introduction:
The Federal Railroad Administration‘s (FRA) primary mission is to provide for the safety of the Nation‘s railroads by administering the railroad safety laws and regulations. Railroads and operating authorities can petition FRA to waive regulations, including the crashworthiness regulations that apply to rail passenger equipment. Each petition for waiver is expected to contain sufficient information to support the action sought, including an evaluation of anticipated impacts. To provide for safety while making best use of its resources and to facilitate passenger rail industry growth, FRA has decided to develop, in consultation with the rail industry, alternative criteria and procedures for assessing the crashworthiness of rail passenger trainsets that are applicable to a wide range of equipment designs. These criteria and procedures are intended to be used by the rail industry in developing information to support waiver petitions and by FRA in evaluating waiver petitions.
The objective of this effort was to develop criteria and procedures for assessing the crashworthiness and occupant protection performance of alternatively designed equipment to be used in Tier I service. Alternative designs include trainsets originally intended for operation outside the United States that may not be compliant with current FRA Tier I crashworthiness regulations. As defined in Part 238, Tier I service includes any passenger rail service operating at speeds up to 125 mph. Criteria are defined by the conditions that will be evaluated and the critical results from the evaluation. Procedures are defined as the analysis and test techniques applied to demonstrate compliance with the criteria. The criteria and procedures that have been developed take advantage of the latest technology in rail equipment crashworthiness. The criteria and procedures include aspects that are fundamentally different from current regulations, such as the scenario-based train-level requirements. No such requirements exist in FRA‘s current Tier I regulations
Pinch me…I must be dreaming.
One minor criticism of the report is that they are still fixated on accident survivablility. PTC and other accident avoidance measures are also important components for overall safety. Still, it will be interesting to see if any policy change get enacted.