Federal safety standards for high-speed rail have been delayed as the Federal Railroad Administration determines how to release new rules while adhering to President Donald Trump’s order that agencies eliminate two regulations for every one they issue.
The FRA’s chief safety officer, Robert Lauby, said his agency’s regulations are “complete or ready to be issued,” but regulators need guidance on how to proceed under the new White House. The FRA does not have an appointed administrator or deputy administrator in place.
The proposed high-speed rail rules released in November would create a new tier of safety standards that allow passenger rail service at speeds up to 220 mph along lines shared with commuter and other rail. Currently, Amtrak’s Acela is the fastest train operating on lines shared with slower trains; it is approved to travel up to 150 mph, but does so on just a small segment of track.
Lauby said the rail industry wants the regulations released, calling them “well-liked” because they will provide cost-savings and were developed in coordination with rail and affected industri
Slow and Uncertain
California’s high-speed rail project received a project-specific approval from the FRA, but even that project has placeholders referencing proposed rules in its procurement documents for new trains, Frank Vacca, chief program manager for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, told Bloomberg BNA. Vacca said they expect the regulations to be in place before California needs to finalize its contracts.