Letter from the FRA

This week Capital Metro’s president/CEO Fred Gilliam received a letter from the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) with an update on the status of our ongoing work with the agency that has federal oversight of rail systems. Some quick background: FRA safety regulations are based on larger, heavier, locomotive-hauled trains typically used for freight operations. Since Capital Metro is using lighter trains for MetroRail service, we are submitting documentation that demonstrates that our rail cars have equivalent safety measures. Here’s the letter:

October 10, 2008
Dear Mr. Gilliam:

Thank you for your September 23, 2008, letter responding to the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) February 19, 2008, ruling on the Capital Metro Transportation Authority (CMTA) petition for waiver. Your letter accurately describes the excellent working relationship that has developed between CMTA and FRA staff, and acknowledges the challenging work ahead.

The CMTA Revenue Service Requirements List attached to your letter was developed by CMTA and FRA representatives during the September 3 and 4, 2008, technical meeting. The list represents, to the best of our knowledge, the remaining issues to be addressed before revenue service. More importantly, however, the list contains acceptable strategies for closing each item that will result in a safe and efficient transportation system for the citizens of greater Austin.

FRA agrees with CMTA’s suggested approach to work off the remaining issues through individual document and white paper submissions. We expect that the forthcoming submissions will establish compliance or demonstrate equivalent safety with respect to our regulations. FRA will attempt to review and respond to each submission as quickly as possible in support of CMTA’s construction and revenue service milestones. At this time, we have not identified any concerns that could potentially delay a successful startup.

Thank you for your continued cooperation. We look forward to working with you to resolve these remaining issues. Please contact Mr. Robert Lauby or Mr. John Mardente if you have questions of concerns regarding the submissions.


Grady C. Cothen, Jr.
Deputy Associate Administrator for Safety and Program Development
Federal Railroad Administration

2 thoughts on “Letter from the FRA

  1. M1EK

    That entire article is a great endorsement for building light rail that is separate from freight rail so that you don’t have to worry about the FRA. And, of course, you get the benefits of a vehicle that can actually run around downtown without having to condemn huge swaths of real estate like the New Jersey line had to do in Camden.

    Not precisely what was meant, I bet. But that’s the real lesson: don’t screw around with DMUs when you ought to be putting up caternary wire.

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