FRA to hold remote public safety hearings for Texas Central’s proposed high-speed line, but many may not be heard

Written by RT&S Staff
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Texas Central recently paid back taxes in several counties where construction will take place.
Texas Central

The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) is using communications technology to seek public input on Texas Central’s proposed safety standards for its high-speed rail project. However, opponents say many of the people who will be impacted by the project won’t have access to the technology or simply will not know how to access it.

The FRA is holding remote hearings daily to the first 300 users over the phone, but Kyle Workman, president and chairman of the Texans Against High-Speed Rail, says the high-speed line will run through rural areas where people do not have good cell transmission. Most of the population in the middle of the project between Houston and Dallas also are older and may have trouble accessing the remote hearings. Workman also believes the FRA should allow more than 300 people a day to participate.

In terms of safety, Texas Central says it will use the same technology as the Central Japan Railroad used on the Tokaido Shinkansen. That high-speed line runs between Osaka and Tokyo, and according to Texas Central there has not been a single operational accident, fatality, or serious injury in the 56-year history.

Workman believes Texas Central is asking the FRA for a dedicated carve-out, which will allow them to operate because the high-speed line does not qualify as a Tier III railroad in terms of passenger equipment safety standards. Tier III trainsets must operate in an exclusive right-of-way without grade crossings at speeds above 125 mph. Trainsets can share the right-of-way with freight trains and other tiers of passenger equipment at speeds not exceeding 125 mph. Crashworthiness and occupant protection requirements remove regulatory barriers and enable the use of new technological designs, and the Tier III rule increases the maximum speed for passenger equipment that complies with FRA’s Tier II requirements to 160 mph.

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