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Summary 3 Research insights and conclusions are tempered by first-hand experience gleaned from preparation of an FRA Waiver Petition and direct involvement in all aspects of initiating a shared-track operation. Findings Alternative Approaches to New Starts Major investment studies for shared-track systems should reflect trade-offs between the shared-track alternative and other investments that might equally serve mass-transit needs. At a planning level, four types of alternatives are distinguished: · The "Nonrail" Alternative: represents the status quo or nonrail investments including carpooling facilities, bus route rationalization, transit priority lanes, or bus rapid transit investments. · The "Separate System" Alternative: requires construction of dedicated track for non- compliant rail vehicles. The service uses a new right-of-way, shares a right-of-way (but not track) with conventional trains, or uses a highway alignment. · The "Compliant Vehicle" Alternative: can establish commuter rail service on a rail- road. Modernization of signal systems and infrastructure, and new passenger facilities are required. Railroad equipment can share track without restrictions. However, high platforms could cause clearance issues for freight equipment. Downtown street run- ning also may be precluded. · The "Shared-Track" Alternative: entails seeking special FRA approval to allow light rail vehicles (noncompliant) to share track with conventional railroad equipment. The infra- structure requirement can be similar to the compliant alternative, but the resulting ser- vice would be more flexible. Light passenger rail cars can continue off-the-rail alignment onto city streets. Low floor cars avoid conflicts between freight and passenger operations. There are two methods of operations: a. Temporal separation is possible where all freight activity can be constrained to a short overnight period without adversely impacting freight operations; and b. Concurrent operations are required where most freight activity can be moved into the overnight period with some overlap in the fringes of the service day. Occasional mid- day moves may occur in response to shipper needs. Planners and stakeholders can use the "Alternatives Analysis" process to evaluate the pri- mary advantages and disadvantages of a proposed shared-track system (shown in Table 1). Business Model If the advantages lead to the selection of a shared-track alternative, then the business model should guide the subsequent decision making. While there is no standard business model for shared-track operations, there are features and attributes that nearly all shared- track operators exhibit summarized in Table 2. Business Case The business model parameters then can be incorporated and quantified in the business case. In an exercise for this report, the team's research indicates that shared-track methods may reduce the capital development costs for rail transit system by 40% to 66% when compared
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4 Shared Use of Railroad Infrastructure with Noncompliant Public Transit Rail Vehicles: A Practitioner's Guide Table 1. Shared-track advantages and disadvantages. Advantages Disadvantages Increase accessible passenger market; public Conflicts with growth in freight traffic. transportation available in new, less served Temporal separation can be a "zero-sum" areas game, with winners and losers Potential for route extensions, connections and Capacity limitations, not suitable for high passenger growth. Flexibility for test services density, high volume passenger movements "Walkability" to and from stations Stations require parking and improved highway access; and generate traffic Downtown distribution Noise generated by horn warnings when trains traverse grade crossings Lower cost than light rail Increase in noisy freight movements that will likely shift to night Quieter and with lower emissions than A lightly used freight line must exist. The traditional commuter rail concept is applicable in selective circumstances Induced growth may be economically Existing freight corridor may not be optimally beneficial to locality placed to generate ridership. Growth may be induced where inappropriate or constrained by other factors. Ridership may be induced rather than mode shifted Shorter, faster trains A cooperative freight partner is required Viable in "edge cities" and suburban Extended and complex bureaucratic process; neighborhoods success not assured Additional utilization of an existing railroad Requires added systems and technology to asset protect passenger traffic from freight-based accidents Reduced social disruption construction Route will likely include a large number of relocation, and environmental disturbance by grade crossings. Realistic or not, concern is using existing facility increased with noncompliant vehicles Disparate speeds and weight, structural incompatibility of vehicles increases risk Each incremental change requires approval from the FRA Table 2. Business model for shared-track. Business Issue Transit Agency Freight Railroad Track Ownership Purchase, improve, and assumes Sell and relinquishes control control Track Maintenance Pays all costs and defines Identify needs for continued freight standards subject to FRA service regulation Track Access Manages freight and passenger Perpetual and exclusive trackage schedule interactions rights, subject to per-use fee Liability Assumes all risks over-and-above Provides suitable insurance for own the old status quo employees and operations Capital Financing Uses traditional public transit Pays for freight-specific financing mechanisms improvements on an incremental basis Incident & Leads the incident site and Assists as necessary if freight Emergency recovery effort equipment is involved Management Operating Rules Maintain railroad-like rules for Coordinate with transit agency and both freight and passenger FRA to identify rules necessary to operations preserve and operate freight service Employee Training Trains transit employees and Trains freight employees for provides cross-training where operation on transit territory needed Breakdown Retrieves disabled passenger Quickly retrieves disabled freight Recovery equipment and evacuates equipment to allow resumption of passengers transit service Labor Laws Avoids rail labor laws Operates under railroad labor laws Command and Combined command-and-control system with either temporal separation Control or "fail-safe train separation"