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12 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors · The various government agencies and industry associations that support and regulate the U.S. railroad system. Almost all of these organizations--and the regulations, standards, and practices they are responsible for--may affect passenger service. · The differences between Amtrak intercity and commuter services and Amtrak's right of access to the rail network at incremental cost. All intercity passenger rail services over existing rail corridors are operated by Amtrak; thus understanding what Amtrak does and can do is essential to planning and implementing new intercity service. Appendices A, B, and C comprise a primer on the railroad industry and its institutions, and the Bibliography provides further sources for deeper investigation. 2.2.3 Vision for the Service and Long-Term Planning Any state or local agency considering new or expanded passenger rail service has to manage multiple interlocking processes, of which negotiation with the freight railroad is only one. In all cases, the starting point is a vision for the service--what kind of service is desired, what commu- nities will be served, and what kinds of benefit (improved mobility, congestion relief, etc.) are expected. A common starting point is the recognition that additional transportation capacity is needed in a travel corridor, leading to a planning effort to consider alternatives. Another starting point can be the efforts of an individual legislator or group of legislators to build public support and ini- tiate a study of a proposed service. Some long-range transportation plans for a state or region may propose intercity or commuter rail as a desirable solution to mobility needs (although most State Transportation Improvement Programs focus primarily on highway projects and are a require- ment to access federal highway funding). Yet another source of the vision can be a citizen initia- tive or a passenger rail advocacy organization (as with the Downeaster service in New England). Many passenger rail initiatives now receiving serious attention have been the subject of past studies that failed to develop further, usually because of funding barriers, a change in state gov- ernment policy, or a lack of consistent support at responsible government agencies. Once the vision is defined, the next stage is to build public and political support for implementing a new service. Once support is established, the process can begin. Developing a State Rail Plan for freight and passenger rail services that includes the proposed service can be a key factor in the success of a passenger rail initiative. For this reason, PRIIA has made completing an approved state rail plan a requirement for approval of federal grants for inter- city passenger rail service. This requirement is waived for ARRA funding in the interests of time- liness. However, this does not detract from the usefulness of planning for both passenger and freight rail requirements, intermodal connections, and interstate and international connections. The next section discusses rail plans and provides a case study of where good planning supported successful passenger rail development. 2.2.4 Role of Long-Term Planning Some states have found that having a well-thought-out long-term rail plan helps sustain a pas- senger rail program, while reassuring freight railroads that their interests are receiving full con- sideration. The primary rationale for developing such a plan is that building a high-quality network of passenger rail services in a state or region is rarely a one-time effort and is far more likely to be accomplished through a series of incremental steps over time. A plan helps ensure that each increment constitutes not only a viable project on its own but also moves toward complet- ing the planned network. Because almost all passenger rail developments involve sharing track and rail corridors with freight rail services, a comprehensive plan must include freight rail devel- opments as well as passenger rail. An excellent example of a long-term plan is the plan prepared