Siemens and Alstom welcome change to open high-speed rail in US

Siemens and Alstom welcome change to open high-speed rail in US : High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.

Two of the world’s biggest passenger train manufacturers and the US’s rail passenger group have both welcomed a rule change that looks set to make it far easier to bring international high-speed train designs to the US.

Germany’s Siemens, builder of Germany’s ICE3 high-speed train, said it was looking forward to building new trains capable of up to 220mph in the US under the new rules. France’s Alstom, builder of France’s TGV high-speed trains, also welcomed the rule change.

High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article.The National Association of Railroad Passengers (Narp) said the reform would improve services by opening up competition to a far wider range of suppliers.

The Federal Railroad Administration voted on Friday to scrap existing, highly prescriptive rules on passenger train safety and replace them with new rules setting out overall standards for how well the trains should stand up to a crash.

The existing rules require trains to withstand a head-on crash with freight trains – which account for the vast majority of traffic on the US’s vast railroad network – with no change in shape. Most European trains are designed to withstand high-speed, head-on crashes but do so by absorbing the energy in crumple zones at the vehicle ends.

The new rules will allow passenger trains built on European principles, either high-speed or commuter trains, to operate in the US.

Most US mainline passenger trains at present consist of passenger coaches hauled by locomotives built by General Electric or Caterpillar, the two big diesel locomotive manufacturers.

Siemens said the new FRA standards were consistent with those being applied to high-speed trains internationally at present.

“As a manufacturer with trains running on some of the most successful, most high-speed routes in the world, we support these and look forward to the opportunity to build to these new standards in the US,” it said.

Guillaume Mehlman, President of Alstom Transport North America, said Alstom supported the new rules, for all passenger trains operating on US main rail lines.

The changes are also likely to benefit Canada’s Bombardier, the world’s biggest trainmaker.

Ross Capon, Narp’s chief executive, agreed that the rule changes would open up the US high-speed rail market to a wider range of potential suppliers.

“They’re moving in a positive direction from the point of view of the manufacturers,” Mr Capon said. “The nature of the modifications that would have to be made is far less onerous than before the rules were changed.”

Henry Posner, a US-based rail entrepreneur who has operated trains in both Europe and the US, said the changes were positive as long as manufacturers were not hit with overly restrictive rules about where they could build trains. Some states funding rail projects in the past have demanded trains be assembled locally.

The new rules – likely to take effect later this year – will allow trains to run at up to 125mph on lines shared with other traffic and 220mph on dedicated high-speed lines. Work starts on the US’s first dedicated high-speed rail line – in California – later this year.

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Source : Financial Times

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