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CHAPTER 1 Introduction, Background, and Purpose 1.1 Introduction The past decade has seen substantial growth in the U.S. passenger rail usage. Over the 10 years from 1999 to 2008, trips on commuter rail systems increased by 29 percent and Amtrak inter- city trips grew by 33 percent. New and expanded commuter and corridor-type intercity services have been introduced in several regions. At the same time, rail freight revenue ton-miles grew by 25 percent. Both passenger and freight growth have been driven by increasing fuel prices, high- way and airport congestion, environmental concerns, and an increasing emphasis on multi- modal planning in recent transportation legislation. Although the recession in 2008 and 2009 sharply reduced freight traffic and flattened passenger travel, this growth is likely to continue and accelerate as the economy recovers. Continuing substantial growth in rail passenger service is expected as a result of legislation in late 2008 and early 2009. The Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) of 2008 and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 established new programs and procedures for funding and grant awards for intercity pas- senger rail investments, supported by substantial funding for intercity passenger rail projects. ARRA also provided substantial additional funds for the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) New Starts program, which supports many commuter rail developments, and mode-flexible transportation funds to state departments of transportation (DOTs). Almost all passenger rail initiatives envision implementing new or expanded service on exist- ing freight and passenger rail corridors and track. However, the steady growth of rail traffic, espe- cially freight traffic, has led to localized railroad capacity problems and the potential for more severe capacity constraints in the future. Growth in passenger ridership has resulted in similar capacity constraints on some commuter networks. Many rail freight corridors proposed for new passenger service have not seen passenger service for decades and have been optimized for freight operation. Even proposals for true high-speed rail, such as that developed by the California High Speed Rail Authority, plan to share existing rail corridors for portions of the route. The combination of ongoing growth of existing freight and passenger services and rising demand for new service has created a difficult negotiating environment for passenger rail inter- ests seeking access to existing rail lines, especially those owned by freight railroads. Freight rail- roads are often reluctant to commit capacity to a new passenger service that may be needed for their own services in the future and are finding it difficult to meet the passenger service perfor- mance requirements, such as short journey times and acceptable on-time performance (OTP). A further result of the expansion of passenger rail initiatives is that many more local, state, and regional transportation agencies, their staffs and consultants, and other stakeholders are becom- ing involved in passenger rail matters. Many of these organizations and individuals are unfamil- iar with the railroad industry and the issues that confront officials implementing and operating successful passenger rail services. This Guidebook had been developed to help these officials and 1