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18 Shared Use of Railroad Infrastructure with Noncompliant Public Transit Rail Vehicles: A Practitioner's Guide 3. A transit or planning agency wants to use an existing radial or conveniently linked branch line connection, where the right-of-way has been `hemmed in' by development and cannot support more tracks than absolutely necessary for a shared freight and light passenger rail service plan. In each case, neither commuter rail nor a stand alone light rail system would be entirely sat- isfactory. A commuter rail operation would result in lower ridership, in unattractive end-to-end transfers, or noise and vibration impacts in the downtown or is simply physically unsuitable for the alignment. A stand-alone light rail system would result in duplicative facilities and thus much higher capital costs, or a poor at-grade alignment choice. There is then a very real possibility that the initial ridership would not justify any construction. Shared-track represents projects of opportunity where a potential transit corridor need occurs along a strategically located, active rail freight branch line. In those cases track sharing offers many advantages over other solutions by: providing interoperability with existing light rail sys- tems; street running to improve proximity to demand generators and contribute to economic revitalization in blighted areas; reducing negative environmental impacts and construction costs; preserving economically important branch line freight service; and offering an intermediate level-of-investment between a stand-alone light rail system and a commuter rail alternative. Creating a Strategic Foundation Track sharing between short or branch line trains and light passenger rail cars serves a niche market between commuter rail and a stand-alone light rail system. Viable operations in North America typically entail allowing a small number of branch line freight trains to operate over a line that is converted for medium-frequency light passenger rail use at limited speeds. To ascer- tain whether shared-track is the ideal or preferred solution, it is necessary to develop effective strategies that work within the confines of existing policy: · Identifies these "projects of opportunity" · Quantifies their costs and benefits · Provides examples of successful projects · Describes a business model and defining a business case · Discusses the safety case · Reviews effective technologies · Examines the role of regulatory agencies The institutional issues are the most complex, but the first step is development of a business model to help guide the approach. The Business Model The research objective clearly expressed the need to prepare a business case and identify the business model for shared-track. The model is the more strategic facet of the two and forms the skeleton of the business case. It is therefore addressed first. The business case is the tactical con- stituent that is applied to a specific situation to analyze and evaluate factors that shape the eco- nomic, technical, and operational decisions. A business model is a guide to the conversion of technology to economic value, and is vital to advancing the concept of shared use: A business model is a conceptual tool that contains a set of elements and their relationships to express the business logic of a specific firm or service. It describes the value of a company to its customers and of the architecture of the firm and its network of partners for creating, marketing, and delivering this value and integrating financial and institutional resources to generate profitable and sustainable revenue streams.