The Federal Railroad Administration issued a Notice of Intent that it will prepare an Environmental Impact Statement to evaluate potential passenger rail improvements on the Northeast Corridor between Washington, D.C., and Boston, Mass. The FRA is leading the planning and environmental evaluation of the NEC, an effort known as NEC Future, in close coordination with the involved states, the Northeast Corridor Infrastructure and Operations Advisory Commission, Amtrak and other stakeholders.
The purpose of the NEC Future program is to define current and future markets for improved rail service and capacity on the NEC, to develop a plan to incrementally meet those needs and to create a regional planning framework to engage stakeholders throughout the region in the development of the program. NEC Future’s activities include the development of a Passenger Rail Corridor Investment Plan (PRCIP) to provide the data necessary to support a FRA decision to fund and implement major investments. A PRCIP is comprised of two components: a Tier 1 EIS and a Service Development Plan.
In other FRA news, it has issued a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) that would clarify certain requirements of the existing emergency preparedness standards for passenger trains and address issues that have arisen since the regulations were issued in May 1998. The changes would ensure that railroad personnel who communicate and coordinate with first responders during emergency situations receive initial and periodic training and are subject to operational efficiency tests and inspections; clarify that railroads must develop procedures in their emergency preparedness plans addressing the safe evacuation of passengers with disabilities during an emergency situation; limit the need for FRA to formally approve purely administrative changes to approved emergency preparedness plans and specify new operational efficiency testing and inspection requirements for both operating and non-operating employees for railroads.
The proposed requirements are based on recommendations from FRA’s Railroad Safety Advisory Committee’s General Passenger Safety Task Force.