Source for information about passenger railcar safety standards

Discussion in 'Amtrak Rail Discussion' started by MARC Rider, May 21, 2019.

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  1. May 21, 2019 #1

    MARC Rider

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    MARC Rider

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    I'm trying to better understand the debate about the FRA safety standards. Seems that a lot of people on this forum and elsewhere blame them for making passenger rail equipment overly expensive. It also seems likely that the heavier rail equipment in the US reduces the fuel economy/pollution benefit of the rail mode. I'd like to find some background material on the history of how the regulations came to be, why they're different from those in other developed countries, etc. I'm looking for more technical stuff and balanced historical accounts, but most of the stuff I've been finding in web searches is either the FRA regs themselves or polemical criticism. Anybody have any pointers as to where to look?
     
    JustOnce likes this.
  2. May 23, 2019 #2

    JustOnce

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    JustOnce

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    I'd like to know as well. Some of the most recent changes happened in 1998. From my limited research the standards before that date were 800,000 lbs crush resistance ("buff strength") for locomotives, cab-control coach cars, and electric multiple units. Other cars were only 400,000 lbs (AFAIK).

    First, the High Speed specs were published requiring all Acela cars to handle 800,000 lbs (even higher for the power cars).

    https://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/pf_headline.asp?id=4155

    Later in 1998, all cars were bumped to 800,000. I've not uncovered any explanations to the logic or seen any analysis on why additional crush resistance was safer or justified.
     
  3. May 23, 2019 #3

    MARC Rider

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    MARC Rider

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    Well, I found a revealing passage in the article posted above:

    "For conventional trains, the FRA has long ensured that locomotives can withstand a head-on collision by requiring ''buff strength'' of 800,000 pounds of pressure.

    In some ways, analysts said, the figure is arbitrary, originating out of crude safety standards from the 1920s and 1930s, when it was observed that mail cars survived more crashes because they were reinforced with steel. "


    In some ways I find it hard to believe that there hasn't been any research and testing on how to make trains survive crashes. On the other hand, I guess I shouldn't be surprised.

    Compare this to the work done with motor vehicles that has allowed the development of lighter, yet safer, cars.

    Activists who support rail and environmentalists who want to increase the use of passenger rail as a means of saving fuel and reducing emissions should be pushing for serious funding for research on reducing train weight while maintaining or even increasing safety.
     
  4. May 23, 2019 #4

    jis

    jis

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    Oh there has been plenty of research both in the US and in Europe, and not necessarily all even in the US agree with FRA's ham handed standard making. It is just that a lot of the work hard to find on the internet, and even those that can be found are only in the form of Abstracts where you have to pay an arm and a leg to get the full paper. Specially if you take Europe into the equarion I doubt there is any need for any additional funding, and of late the folks in US have finally learned to swallow their pride and use results of work from Europe and even China apparently.
     
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  5. May 24, 2019 #5

    Dutchrailnut

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    Dutchrailnut

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    Funny how Budd exceeded the 1 000 000 Lbs buff strength in 1983 without really trying . so time to get wannabee's to to step up to plate.
     
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