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18 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors east. Both operators were initially hostile to the passenger rail service, viewing it as unfair subsidized competition. But they were persuaded to enter into these cooperative agreements that provide for selective interchangeability of tickets and showing each others' services in their schedules. Experience has shown that the availability of more travel options has increased ridership for all parties. 2.3 Initial Discussions with the Host Railroad 2.3.1 Introduction There are two major stages in the freight railroad discussions. First, initial discussions in the planning stage seek railroad inputs to planning and feasibility studies, and, second, the passenger rail interests come to the table with a substantive proposal. Throughout, it is essential to have a knowledgeable railroad person involved on the passenger side to counter unreasonable objections and to enable the freight railroad to feel that its concerns are understood. Indeed, the early stages of negotiations are as much a confidence-building process as it is a discussion of the specific ser- vice details. Both parties need to understand the other sides' goals for their services and develop a shared commitment to reaching those goals. The next step is to agree that technical issues affect- ing shared operations--such as rail line capacity, track quality and signal system requirements, capital and maintenance costs, and similar matters--should be resolved by suitable, objective, mutually acceptable analyses. The first contacts with the freight railroad are vital. It is easy to start off on the wrong foot and then have to spend time and effort to get back on track. In addition, different freight railroads have very different preferences on when they want to become involved in a passenger rail initia- tive on one of their corridors. Some prefer to be involved from the earliest stages, and others do not want to devote resources to discussions before a detailed proposal is on the table. To add con- fusion, preferences may change over time, from region to region, or be situational, depending on the characteristics of the corridor under consideration. The key parameters for decisions about this initial approach are: Is the service Amtrak intercity or commuter, as discussed previously? Does the host railroad prefer or require early engagement, when plans are being formed, or later engagement, after a more detailed plan has been developed? Does the passenger agency or other state agency have an existing relationship with the prospective host railroad? The sequence of communication activities with the railroad are illustrated in Figure 2-1. The question of when to first approach the host railroad has the potential to cause difficulty for passenger rail agencies. A majority of passenger rail agencies state that they prefer early engage- ment on the grounds that the railroad will learn plan details directly from the agency rather than from press reports and railroad concerns and possible deal breakers will be identified early in the planning process. Proponents of later engagement feel that early engagement puts the railroad in a strong negotiating position against an unprepared agency team, and they advise waiting until a thorough feasibility plan is available and funding has been secured. However, late engagement also has risks and disadvantages; in particular, the feasibility study may not fully take into account railroad concerns and objections in the absence of railroad inputs. This Guidebook strongly advises early contact with the host railroad, in cooperation with Amtrak if the service is Amtrak intercity. The passenger agency should emphasize that this is an informational contact to acquaint the host railroad with the agency's initial plans, request cooper- ation with a feasibility study, and identify major concerns. The agency should resist any attempt to

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Getting Started and Negotiations 19 Do More Homework: Contact other passenger rail agencies that have or are in the process of implementing passenger rail service with the same host railroad, and get their inputs on what was and was not successful. Contact other state agencies that may have relationships with the prospective host railroad, such as providing grants under a state freight mobility program, industrial development, or similar activity, and become informed about these programs and their contacts in the host railroad. Prepare an outlined plan for the overall process--initial planning, feasibility studies, NEPA analyses (where applicable), railroad negotiations, grant applications, etc. (if not already available). Amtrak Intercity Commuter Meet with Amtrak officials responsible for If necessary, retain an experienced state-supported services in the region consultant to assist with approach to railroad. Present initial plans for the proposed service Arrange informational meeting with the number of daily trains, trip time targets, etc. railroad's passenger service liaison (all the Follow Amtrak's lead regarding the best big Class 1's have such an official) or a senior approach to the host railroad. official of a regional or short line railroad. Emphasize informational nature of meeting. Note that Amtrak has operating agreements The passenger agency is not entering into in place with all Class 1 freight railroads and negotiations at this stage. The initial meeting many others, and may have infrastructure is a prelude to proper study and analysis of and operations information for the corridor in the proposed service. which you are interested. Acquaint the railroad with the initial plans for Establish scope of feasibility study for the passenger service and outline the program proposed service and who will complete each moving forward. component. Because Amtrak has limited resources, the passenger rail agency will Ask for cooperation in a feasibility study, at have to use its own staff and consultants to least as far as providing infrastructure and perform the study. operations data for the proposed corridor and key issues that must be considered from the With Amtrak support and participation, host railroad point-of-view. approach railroad with initial plans, and request cooperation in a feasibility study. Ask what ongoing involvement the railroad wants in the planning and negotiation process (early and often, wait until plans are mature, or something in between). Implement Feasibility Study Figure 2-1. Sequence for communicating with the freight railroads. be drawn into negotiations or agree to specific conditions for the proposed service at this stage. The response should be that specific needs for the service will be analyzed in the feasibility study and the railroad will be invited to participate in the analysis. If, after this initial contact, the railroad states that it prefers later engagement in this project after a detailed plan is available, then so be it. It is unlikely that a railroad will feel unable to par- ticipate even in a limited fashion, such as providing route data for the feasibility study, and the passenger agency can keep the railroad updated on progress and developments.