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Trump's deregulation order stalls federal high-speed rail rules

Dive Brief:

  • President Donald Trump's efforts at streamlining the country's regulatory process have delayed the issuance of new high-speed safety rules, according to Bloomberg BNA.

  • The problem lies with Trump's executive order that requires federal agencies to eliminate two regulations for every new one that they issue.

  • Industry experts told Bloomberg BNA that a lack of safety rules creates an environment of uncertainty in an industry that is trying to gain traction in the U.S.

Dive Insight:

The FRA proposed the set of national safety regulations last November after gathering industry input for 10 years. Currently, the FRA regulates trains traveling at speeds below 150 mph, but the new regulations would cover trains traveling at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour. The FRA anticipated being able to issue the new rules earlier this year.

The new FRA rules do not address trains traveling at speeds in excess of 220 mph because of questions around steel wheel operations, lower efficiencies and noise, but the federal government has explored regulations around magnetic levitation (maglev) trains that can travel up to 350 mph.

In fact, during a trade event last year in Baltimore, Japanese officials pledged $2 million for a feasibility study around a high-speed, maglev train between Baltimore and Washington, DC. The federal government committed $28 million toward engineering and environmental studies for the project.

Industry leaders have said that a set of uniform high-speed rail requirements will shorten the complex and lengthy bureaucratic approvals that are necessary for such projects. Currently, a new set of design criteria must be introduced with each project.

In addition to a lack of national guidelines, regulatory requirements like Buy America laws also have hampered high-speed rail development in the U.S. because much of the proven technology comes out of Europe and Asia.

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