FRA Mandates 2-Way Communications Systems on Passenger Trains

Under a new rule published in today's Federal Register by the Federal Railroad Administration, passenger rail cars must be equipped with two-way communication systems that better help train crews inform and instruct passengers during emergency situations and allow passengers to report potential safety or security problems to them. Also, emergency evacuation and rescue access windows are required at all levels with passenger seating, and all new passenger railcars must be equipped with emergency roof access locations.

"These safety features will help rail passengers evacuate from a train more quickly and provide emergency responders additional ways to reach trapped or injured riders, should the need arise," said Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph H. Boardman.

The rule includes requirements for the inspection, testing, maintenance, and repair of these safety systems. Additionally, it addresses a safety recommendation made and other concerns raised by the National Transportation Safety Board following fatal passenger train accidents in an April 2002 collision between a BNSF Railway freight train and a Metrolink passenger train in Placentia, Calif. and a February 1996 collision between two New Jersey Transit commuter trains in Secaucus, N.J.

Boardman said a related FRA rulemaking to enhance passenger railcar emergency lighting systems, exit path markings, and emergency signage is expected to be completed later this year.

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