Technical Reports

An Assessment of High-Speed Rail Safety Issues and Research Needs

  • 01
  • Dec
  • 1990
AUTHOR: Federal Railroad Administration
KEYWORDS: High-Speed Rail; Railroad Safety; Signal and Train Control Systems; Locomotives; passenger cars; High-speed track systems
ABSTRACT: Proposals are currently being developed for high-speed wheel-on-rail passenger train service in several intercity corridors in the United States. These proposals involve the application of foreign high-speed train technology, and operation at speeds exceeding 125 mph. This report provides an assessment of safety issues associated with high-speed rail passenger systems, and identifies where further research may be needed to ensure the safe operation of such systems in the United States railroad environment. The approach taken in this assessment was to first "identify and describe the key safety-related features of all high-speed rail systems that may be applied in the United States. Then all safety issues associated with passenger rail systems are identified, and pertinent safety-related regulations, standards and practices applicable in the U.S. and on foreign systems are discussed. Each discussion concludes with a recommendation regarding the need for research into the safety issue: The principal issues on which research appears desirable include passenger car structural strength requirements, novel brake system performance, security of the right-of-way against obstructions, and high-speed signalling and train control systems.