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U.S. Department of Transportation U.S. Department of Transportation Icon United States Department of Transportation United States Department of Transportation

HOG GC Hearing

Georgia Central Railway, L.P. and Heart of Georgia Railroad, Inc.

Request for Approval of a Test Program and Temporary Suspension of Certain Safety Regulations in Connection with that Program and Public Hearing

 

Background

Georgia Central Railway, L.P. and Heart of Georgia Railroad, Inc. (Petitioners) submitted a request to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) under 49 CFR 211.51 for approval of a test program, and the temporary suspension of certain FRA safety regulations in connection with the test program. Petitioners explain that the proposed test program involves a system of a novel, self-propelled, zero-emission, battery-electric rail vehicles and their associated computer and telemetry technology systems, manufactured by Parallel Systems, Inc. Petitioners state that the goal of the technology is to provide smaller freight railroads an opportunity to meaningfully compete in the short-haul transportation of containers, and the technology also provides numerous public benefits for the environment, the economy, the national highway system, and communities disproportionately impacted by highway movement of containers. Petitioners contend that safety is an overriding focus of the proposed program, and have developed and will adhere to a Pilot Test Safety Plan to ensure safety during testing. Petitioners explain that the test program is designed to evaluate the effectiveness of the system and new operational approaches to rail vehicle technology in the short-haul movement of containers. 

Public Hearing

FRA will conduct a public hearing to provide members of the public an opportunity to provide oral comment on the petition for approval of a test program, and the request for temporary suspension of certain FRA safety regulations. The hearing will be conducted in-person at the Vidalia Community Center in Vidalia, GA (near the test location) as well as virtually to allow greater participation.

As FRA mentioned in the hearing announcement (available here), individuals or groups of individuals wishing to speak and/or present at the hearing should register with FRA in advance in accordance with the instructions provided in the hearing announcement. Based on the number of presenters, FRA may need to limit the duration of presentations.

Any person: (1) wishing to attend the hearing in person, (2) make a statement at the hearing either in-person or virtually, or (3) sign up to give a related presentation, should notify FRA by contacting Ms. Shari Carney, Transportation Analyst, by email at shari.carney@dot.gov, no later than March 8, 2024.

For members of the press wishing to attend, please contact FRA Public Affairs at FRAPA@dot.gov.

Public Hearing Procedures

The hearing will be a non-adversarial proceeding. FRA representatives will make opening statements outlining the scope of the hearing, followed by a presentation by the Petitioners. After all initial statements from FRA and Petitioners are completed, those persons wishing to present to FRA will be given the opportunity to do so. The order of presenters who have signed up in advance will be published in advance of the hearing along with it being announced at the hearing. Once all initial presentations are made, the FRA panel may ask clarifying questions; however, there will be no cross examination of persons presenting statements or offering evidence. Once complete, those wishing to make brief rebuttals may do so, time permitting, in the same order in which the initial statements were made. FRA will announce any additional procedures that are necessary to conduct the hearing, at the hearing.

FRA reserves the right to limit the duration of presentations if necessary to afford all persons with the opportunity to speak.