Page 15 has outlined some of the restrictions on railway rolling stock and speed, that are caused by FRA regulations


Due to the quality of regulations, the state of the art in tilting train usage is not available in the USA. The FRA safety regulations do not allow safe operation of trains at very high unbalanced superelevation, because the resulting trains are too heavy for that.

There is an ironical aspect in this result: Lightweight tilting trains have been a US development, and predated European or Japanese revenue service by 20 years. You can find the arguments of this text in the dusty part of archives in the USA.

New York Central Xplorer standing at platform
New York Central's 120 mph "Xplorer", one of the lightest trains ever built

The FRA regulations have the following impact on state-financed infrastructure upgrade projects for passenger rail:

Overview of the Hallerbach Valley
4% grade on the new highspeed line Köln - Rhein/Main

It needs to be stressed, that there is a difference in US regulations, but no difference in US engineering. In 2002, the California Highspeed Rail Authority published a study about route options between Los Angeles and Bakersfield, that showed the same cost savings for the 3.5% options, that have motivated other railroads to use steep grades for highspeed lines. (At this point, there used to be a link to the report, but it is no longer online.)

For passenger rail in the USA, a higher quality of regulations would mean a multi-billion dollar value, if the policy is pointed towards improvement and extension of rail service.

Unit conversion for text on this page.
120 mph 193 km/h

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Last modified: 2005-04-16