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CHAPTER 2 Shared-Track: Laying the Foundation--Policy and Strategy Introduction The evolution of a shared-track project from concept to an operating system is likely to be tedious and extended. Planners should anticipate as much as 6 to 10 years from start to finish, with a potential for unanticipated delays. The way forward is littered with seemingly burden- some requirements, extended procedural steps, and the possibility of failure. The research chal- lenge was to identify a series of necessary and sufficient steps, along with effective actions, to provide a reasonable certitude of project fruition. This guide should enable originators to navigate the process to advance a proposed shared- track system, to better direct their efforts and to address the inherent ambiguities common to many public/private sector, multi-party endeavors involving bureaucracies and competing demands for limited resources. Part II explains the key policy and strategic factors essential to achieve the sharing of track by a freight operator and a passenger operator using light passenger rail cars. These are broadly cat- egorized as "Institutional Issues"; a complex panoply of policy, organization, administration, reg- ulatory, liability, access, private, public, and other stakeholder perspectives, funding and busi- ness considerations. Coordination and integration of these myriad aspects is critical to success. A strong oversight function and negotiation skills are essential. Why Share Track? A convincing answer to this fundamental question is essential. The strongest reason for shared-track occurs in situations where a transit need that would go otherwise unmet is made possible by track-sharing. In cases where conventional solutions might be acceptable, it is almost always cheaper and faster to start a commuter rail service, and from a regulatory point of view less burdensome to construct a stand-alone light rail system. The transit needs that require shared-track tend to fall into three distinct categories or combinations of these categories: 1. The need to expand the reach of an existing light-rail system by using radial railroad rights- of-way, but the existing freight operation cannot be completely moved into the night-time nor abandoned. 2. A transit or planning agency wants to use an existing radial or conveniently linked branch line connection, but also wants to fulfill a downtown distribution function by traveling on city streets to reach major downtown destinations not proximate to the railroad terminal. 17