Planned high-speed rail lines include these in the Northeast.

New Standards for High-Speed Railcars Unveiled

The Federal Railroad Administration has issued these to set a uniform design for new passenger cars on the lines being constructed. They will meet all current safety requirements and future regulations for crash energy management.

DOT leaders on Aug. 31 announced the first federal technical standards for the manufacture of two-level, high-speed intercity passenger rail cars and said the standards will help U.S. manufacturers compete for that work.

"As part of the Obama administration's focus on maximizing manufacturing opportunities, these first-ever uniform standards will provide an unprecedented opportunity for manufacturers in the U.S., from rails to wheel bearings to final assembly, to build a strong, stable manufacturing base," Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said.

Last month, LaHood announced 25 states had requested a total of more than $8.5 billion in High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail grants, almost four times the $2.3 billion appropriated for those grants in fiscal year 2010. In 2009, the Federal Railroad Administration issued a high-speed rail safety strategy in which it said existing FRA track standards can accommodate train speeds as high as 200 mph but it was developing guidance for U.S. trains operating at up to 220 mph.

Federal Railroad Administrator Joseph C. Szabo called the Aug. 31 announcement "a milestone in the history of rail transportation. These standardized bi-level passenger rail cars will be able to operate nationwide and are compatible with existing equipment," he continued. "A common design also makes it easier to train maintenance personnel, stock parts, and perform repairs, which reduces costs."

Cars with this design (visit this site to see an overhead view of it) will meet all current safety requirements and future regulations for crash energy management. They can be used with today's passenger locomotive fleet, allow for entry and exit on both levels, and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. Standards for single-level passenger cars are expected to be adopted by the end of this year, according to DOT.

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