Blocking private lines dating

The FRA now seems to be insisting that, in most cases, these are not light railways, but must be considered "commuter railroads", and therefore must comform with FRA's full requirements for "heavy" railroad operations.

Many public transport professionals and advocates recognize that certain areas of federal transportation policy are in need of serious changes – and the issues raised by the FRA's jurisdictional ambitions are among these.

In particular, federal policy needs to formulate a consistent definition of terms and concepts such as "light railway", "light rail transit", and "commuter railroad".

Cap Metro asked the FRA to grant a waiver for operation of "light" (non-compliant) diesel multiple unit (DMU) railcars over its 32-mile light railway demonstration project between the city of Austin (population about 706,000) and the town of Leander (population 18,000) on rail track shared with Austin and Western Railroad shortline freight trains (whose operation would be restricted to late-night hours, temporally separated from transit operations) as well as the Austin Steam Train Association tourist line (whose operation would be moved beyond the portion of route used for transit).

In the planning stages for the project, during the late 1990s to 2003, Cap Metro worked with FTA and FRA to obtain waivers to operate the system with the freight service, but when Cap Metro decided not to seek FTA funding, the cooperative attitude by FRA changed. FTA further noted that CMTA had not indicated an intent to receive such funds; and because the CMTA CRS [commuter railroad system] is being built entirely with local funds, the system could not be considered a "rail fixed guideway system" as defined by FTA regulations.

Another factor is the pattern of traffic and scheduled operations: A light railway that tends to be predominantly focused on peak-period trips is more likely to be "fingered" by the FRA as "commuter rail" – i.e., FRA exercises jurisdiction over all commuter operations.

Congress apparently intended that FRA do so when it enacted the Federal Railroad Safety Act of 1970, and made that intention very clear in the 19 amendments to that act.In the USA, the Bush Administration has been implementing a number of policies that make it increasingly difficult for cities and counties to pursue light rail.(See, for example: With Rail Leading, America's Transit Ridership Soars But After Years of Underfunding, Agencies Plunge Into Crisis.) One of the more ominous of these developments involves the Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) oversight of light rail transit (LRT) lines and other light railways that travel outside the urban core or use existing freight rail track.The FRA has not provided any evidence to support their claim that light rail lines, either running on separate tracks or time-separated from freight rail, need the additional safety measures that they are requiring.They want to require buff (structural frame impact) strengths (or equivalent physical capabilities) for new track-sharing light rail lines that are based on a collision between a rail passenger car and a freight train.FRA would re-classify Capital Metro Rail light railway as a heavy "commuter railroad". Because the CMTA CRS system would not meet the definition of a "rail fixed guideway system," FTA noted that Tx DOT would not have authority to provide system oversight through the agency's State Safety Oversight Program.

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