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G-16 Guidebook for Assessing Rail Freight Solutions to Roadway Congestion served with good access routes and with rail spurs or facilities, and the proximity of shippers improves the cost and quality of direct or drayage service.v 5. Finally, the intrinsic appeal of railroading as a separated right of way can be wielded more aggressively to attract public support to rail projects. On the theory that citizen objections to freight are rooted in the visceral experience of driving alongside heavy trucks, the more seg- regated and less visible rail mode is an answer. A tactical approach that routinely sought grade separation as a way to reinforce the segregation of rail and then emphasized the railroad's sequestered character as an additional benefit in projects motivated by factors like congestion relief could foster a public consensus in regular support of freight rail programs. Such a recep- tive environment could smooth and simplify the production of diversions by making pro- grams easier to pursue and faster to accomplish. 2.4 Examples of Rail Freight Solutions Categories of Examples Examples of built projects and approved plans that enhance and support the growth of rail freight services as an alternative to reliance on congested roads exist. Examples found by the pre- parers of this Guide generally fall into four categories: 1. Enhancement of rail freight capacity and service for intercity corridors (e.g., Pennsylvania Double Stack Clearance Project, Virginia I-81 Marketing Project, Netherlands Betuweroute); 2. Enhancement of rail capacity and service along urban corridors (e.g., California Alameda Corridor Project, Kansas City Sheffield Flyover); 3. Plans to enhance throughput and capacity of regional rail freight system (e.g., Vancouver MCTS Plan, Chicago Rail Futures Plan); and 4. Enhancement of rail freight options for service to ports/terminals (e.g., State rail access programs and Inland Ports). Selected examples are summarized below. More details are provided in the separate research report document. · Pennsylvania Double-Stack Clearance Project--Pennsylvania DOT coordinated the work of the railroads and contractors, who "cleared" 163 obstacles so that double-stack container trains could serve the Port of Philadelphia. This involved a combination of undercutting rail rights-of-way and raising vertical clearances on railroad bridges and tunnels as well as high- way and township road bridges. The project covered Conrail's east-west route from the Ohio border to the port, and Canadian Pacific's north-south route from the New York border to the port. In addition, the project improved horizontal clearances in order to accommodate dimensional movements from Wilkes-Barre to the Port of Philadelphia. The project benefits were (1) reduced shipping cost and improved service for the region's shippers, (2) some newly viable competitive rail alternatives where none had previously existed, (3) gain of dimensional traffic for the port and gain of intermodal traffic for the railroads, and (4) a dramatic increase of trucking and warehousing employment in the area. · Virginia Interstate 81 Marketing Study--The Virginia Department of Rail and Public Trans- portation studied the potential for new railroad freight services to attract truck traffic from Commonwealth highways for the alleviation of roadway congestion and improvement of safety. The project employed market research, competitive and operational analysis, diversion modeling with traffic data, and cooperative planning with railroad officials to establish the v An example of this strategy as pursued by railroads is the "logistics hub," described in a trafficWORLD article "Logistics Hubs' Promise," 4/5/04, page 21.
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Background: Context for Rail Freight Planning G-17 product features and attendant costs and investments that would be required to shift varying levels of highway volume to rail. Earlier studies had determined that the direct benefits of freight modal diversion along I-81 were significant and included improvements in highway user, safety, and pavement maintenance costs, as well as in air quality. The project identified public investment needed to upgrade right-of-way and expand or develop terminals to allow the introduction of new intermodal trains, raise their performance characteristics, and reduce their cost of operation to the point where it would shift the competitive modal balance. · Betuweroute Freight Line--The Netherlands Ministry of Transport and the NS Railin- frabeheer Railroad partnered to develop a 160-km, U.S. $5 billion freight-only rail line from the Port of Rotterdam to the German border, linking with the German rail network. The proj- ect included five tunnels with a total length of 18 km and 130 bridges and viaducts with a total length of 12 km, all electrified and built to accommodate double-stack trains operating at a speed of 120 km/h, with up to ten trains per hour in each direction. The nearly completed project was designed to expand freight rail capacity and protect the competitive trade position of the Netherlands and its major port. It is one of the 14 priority infrastructure projects sup- ported by the European Commission as part of its effort to discourage road haulage in favor of rail freight across Europe. As such, the Betuweroute is expected to reduce roadway conges- tion and yield environmental benefits, which are prominent policy goals of the EC. · Alameda Corridor--The State of California and Los Angeles County MTA provided major support for a new freight rail expressway connecting on-dock and terminal rail facilities at the San Pedro Bay (Los Angeles and Long Beach) ports to inland terminals and the conti- nental rail network. The current corridor consists of 20 miles of public, multi-track rail line, half of it grade-separated in a sub-street trench. The $2.4 billion project consolidates access to the country's top international container port by its two serving Class I railroads, with capacity for one hundred trains per day at speeds of 40 mph, in an urban environment. As part of the project, two hundred grade crossings were eliminated by rebuilding the right-of- way and by redirection of traffic to a consolidated route. This was estimated to remove 15,000 daily hours of vehicle delay from Los Angeles roads. At the same time, the street parallel to the rail corridor was widened and improved as part of the right-of-way reconstruction, lead- ing to better traffic flow. The corridor is expected to substantially reduce the growth in truck trips associated with port container activity expansion. A planned second phase would extend the route to downtown operations and a huge goods distribution complex at the rim of the metropolitan region. If finished, the second stage would produce a 55-mile trans-urban rail corridor. · Kansas City Sheffield Flyover--A public-private partnership of railroads and Missouri DOT funded development of 3 miles of elevated tracks in Kansas City to increase the capacity and improve the performance of a major bottleneck in the rail network. At-grade crossing of high- density rail routes had led to train backups and caused extensive delays to highway traffic when trains blocked local streets. The resulting delays were especially difficult for trucks seeking to enter or exit a major industrial area hemmed in between the main lines. By double-tracking the flyover and keeping the existing tracks, it was possible to greatly increase the capacity of the intersection, improving flow of through trains and allowing better service to local rail cus- tomers. The project eliminated rail and highway delays associated with train interference at the rail crossovers. · The Major Commercial Transportation System (MCTS)--This project for the Vancouver region of British Columbia is a system of key transportation facilities and routes planned to improve both rail and highway connections to the region's external gateways and major com- mercial activity centers. The MCTS planning process identified a set of surface transportation projects designed to support a balanced flow of rail and truck movements. They were intended to minimize local traffic congestion, while maximizing the economic health of the region's international gateway function--which is the flow of people and cargo to and from marine
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G-18 Guidebook for Assessing Rail Freight Solutions to Roadway Congestion port, airport, and international border crossing facilities. The "Current and Planned Infra- structure List" makes the case for 17 major new investments, comprising highway upgrades, rail links, new road and rail river crossings, a new rapid transit line, and an additional harbor crossing, with a cost of Can $6 to $7 billion. · Chicago Freight Rail Futures--Chicago's undeniable stature as the nation's rail freight hub has immersed that city in the issues of multi-modal policy development. At present, nearly 60 percent of all U.S. rail intermodal traffic and one-third of all U.S. rail traffic flows through the Chicago region. As overall rail traffic volumes have grown and mergers have concentrated volumes on fewer and fewer traffic corridors, the region has faced a growing rail conges- tion problem. Although trains can make the trip from the West Coast to Chicago in a truck- competitive 2 days, once they get to Chicago they can take 3 more days just to move across town by truck. This adds to urban congestion, especially with 600 at-grade rail crossings in Chicago. The City of Chicago DOT, along with the Chicago Metropolis 2020 organization and the Chicago Coordinating Committee of the railroads have each studied needs for improving freight service and movement through the city. The proposed $1.5 billion CREATE (Chicago Regional Environmental And Transportation Efficiency) Project, envisioned as a public- private partnership, would maximize the use of five rail corridors, create grade separations at 25 road-rail crossings, and create six rail-to-rail "flyovers"--overpasses separating passenger trains from freight trains. The project has not yet been developed, as public funding is still pending. · State Rail Access Programs--Many states have local transportation grant programs designed to help fund local rail and/or highway projects that are needed to help attract and expand industry in the state. Several of these states operate separate rail grant funding programs that are specifically focused on supporting local projects that address these economic development objectives. Among them, Maine's Industrial Rail Access Program and Ohio's Rail Economic Development Program offer particularly interesting examples of rail economic development programs, since programs in those states have documented how their projects have explicitly served to reduce highway demand and associated needs for highway-related investment. In both states, most projects are new or rehabilitated rail sidings and spur lines, although the eli- gible projects can include transload facilities, bridges, rail/roadway crossings, track inter- changes, and rail yards. · Inland Ports--A true "Inland Port" is a remote freight-processing facility and connect- ing infrastructure that provides advanced logistics for ground, rail, and marine cargo movements outside the normal boundaries of marine ports. In effect, it extends a marine port to an off-site, inland location by providing a remote, inland multimodal distribution center for marine/rail and marine/truck transfers, with a direct rail or barge shuttle that moves cargo between ocean-going vessels at the main port and the intermodal transfer site on a frequent basis. By relocating the truck and rail distribution facilities away from the main port site, the inland port facility can reduce congestion from truck traffic in the area of the main port, reduce rail/roadway intersection delays, and remove constraints on port expansion that are attributable to truck capacity limitations. Examples include the Virginia Inland Port (VIP), the European Container Terminal (ECT) in the Netherlands, Nilai Inland Port (NIP) in Malaysia, and New York's Port Inland Distribution Network (PIDN). Motivations Exhibit 2-2 shows the motivation for each of these examples. All of these cases create solutions to roadway congestion, but, in most cases, this was not the primary stated motivation for the project. The most common impetus claimed for these projects was economic development or the related matters of port or regional competitiveness. Viewed from the perspective of how proj-
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Background: Context for Rail Freight Planning G-19 Exhibit 2-2. Examples of Projects and Plans to Implement Rail Freight Solutions. ects attract political support and financial backing, these illustrations suggest that the economic card is a strong one to play and can win relief for roadways where a program based on conges- tion happens not to suffice. Even so, reduction in road congestion formed an important part of project justification in every instance, and crowded roads are linked to the question of compet- itiveness. Congestion was a particularly resonant issue where the relief was obvious--as in grade crossing improvements--or was bound up with safety perceptions. Finally, as truck volumes continue to grow and capacity strains increasingly turn acute, congestion may drive more proj- ects, because of the logistical effect on economic performance and public frustration with deteriorating highway levels of service.