High-speed train

FRA Proposes Rule to Improve High-Speed Rail, Track Interaction Safety

The Federal Railroad Administration has announced proposed rules to amend the Track Safety Standards and Passenger Equipment Safety Standards for high-speed and high cant deficiency train operations to promote safer rail vehicle and track interaction.

The proposal, which takes into account the wide range of vehicles used, would revise existing limits for vehicle response to track conditions and add new limits, as well. These revisions include: qualification requirements for high-speed and high cant deficiency operations; acceleration and wheel force safety limits; inspection, monitoring, and maintenance requirements; and track geometry limits for high-speed operations.

Simultaneously, the proposed rule would establish necessary safety limits for wheel profile and truck equalization, as well as consistent safety requirements for high cant deficiency operations covering all speeds of track classes.

High cant deficiency involves wheel/rail interaction. When a train operates at high cant deficiency, there is a derailment risk because the vehicle attempts to push the track out from under itself. The safety issue is closely related to track buckling. Another safety concern of high cant deficiency is vehicle overturning because forces may cause unloading of the rail wheels. This is particularly an issue for vehicles with high centers of gravity operating with high winds. For freight service, reducing curve superelevation, and thus increasing cant deficiency, can reduce rail wear and low rail rollover, noted The Journal of Wheel/Rail Interaction.

The proposed rule is available at http://www.federalregister.gov/OFRUpload/OFRData/2010-10624_PI.pdf.

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