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2 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors stakeholders, whether experienced or not, to overcome the barriers and successfully implement new or expanded passenger rail service on shared passenger and freight corridors. In summary, a Guidebook is needed because of: · Continuing and growing interest in implementing new passenger rail services (both com- muter and intercity) on existing rail corridors, most of which are currently in use for freight service. · Frequent delays and difficult negotiations with host railroads encountered by agencies seek- ing to implement service and maintain service quality and performance. · A lack of readily available information for agencies and staff who are unfamiliar with the rail- road industry. This Guidebook will assist these officials and other stakeholders in navigating the complex processes involved in implementing new or expanded passenger rail services on shared corri- dors. Note that this Guidebook is not a complete guide to implementing and operating a com- muter or intercity passenger rail service, but rather concentrates on establishing mutually acceptable contracts and working relationships where the passenger service shares the corridor with other rail service providers. This Guidebook has been developed under the auspices of NCHRP Project 8-64, "A Guidebook on Improved Principles, Processes, and Methods for Shared-Use Passenger and Freight-Rail Corridors." As many users will be aware, this Guidebook is being published in a period of rapid change in laws, regulations, and procedures applicable to passenger rail initiatives. PRIIA and ARRA tasked the United States Department of Transportation (U.S.DOT), Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), Surface Transportation Board (STB), and Amtrak with taking a variety of actions relat- ing to passenger rail service--many of which will have a bearing on material presented in this Guidebook, but are yet to be completed. In addition, the Railroad Safety Improvement Act (RSIA), passed in a legislative package with PRIIA, mandated changes in safety regulations that will impact passenger rail developments. Implementation of RSIA requirements is also in progress. In spite of this fluid situation, NCHRP has determined that the interests of stakehold- ers, many of whom are actively involved in ongoing passenger rail projects, are best served by early publication of this Guidebook, indicating where content is likely to be affected by ongoing activities by federal agencies and Amtrak. Consideration is being given to preparation of an addi- tional guidebook volume or supplementary report at a later date, which will update this Guide- book and provide more detail in selected areas. 1.2 Background and Present Situation 1.2.1 Historical Background The present day structure of the U.S. passenger and freight railroad industry and accompany- ing legal and institutional arrangements have evolved over the past 50 years. Existing intercity and commuter rail agencies were established in their present form at different points in time over this period, in response to local and national circumstances in the rail industry. An understand- ing of the history and how it has led to the current situation will help passenger authorities develop realistic plans for new services and conduct effective track-sharing negotiations with other railroad operators whose actions and attitudes have been influenced by this history. A sum- mary is provided in the following paragraphs. More comprehensive descriptions are provided in the appendices. Prior to 1960, the major railroads directly provided freight and all types of passenger services and were required by Interstate Commerce Commission (ICC) regulation to maintain these
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Introduction, Background, and Purpose 3 services for the public. By the start of the 1960s, growing competition from air and highway modes and regulatory and institutional rigidity led to the rapidly worsening financial condition of the rail industry. This financial condition led to deteriorating service, service abandonments, and bankruptcies. Out of necessity, state and federal agencies were drawn into supporting pas- senger rail services. Initially, public agencies became active in supporting essential commuter rail services in major metropolitan areas, aided by limited funding from the newly established Urban Mass Transit Administration (UMTA, later FTA) after 1965. The trigger for more far-reaching change came in 1970, when the Penn Central Railroad, which dominated rail service in the northeast United States, declared bankruptcy. Penn Central's dire financial condition, compounded by badly deteriorated physical condition and chaotic operations threatened passenger and freight service over a large area of the United States. All other significant northeastern railroads also fell into bankruptcy at around the same time. Over the next decade, Congress responded with a series of major legislative actions and funding ini- tiatives designed to preserve rail freight service in the Northeast and, ultimately, place it on a self- supporting basis in the private sector. At the same time, this legislation shifted responsibility for passenger service, both intercity and commuter, to the public sector, including transfer of ownership of the principal commuter rail networks and the Northeast Corridor (NEC) to pub- licly funded entities. The purpose of shifting passenger service away from the freight carriers was twofold: (1) to take the financial burden of money-losing passenger carriage off the freight rail- roads and (2) to preserve passenger service. Although the crisis originated in the Northeast, the resulting legislation changed the railroad industry nationwide. In 1970, the Rail Passenger Service Act created Amtrak to operate intercity passenger service. In return for relief from the burden of passenger service, the participating railroads were required to give Amtrak rights of access to their networks and agreed to an avoidable-cost formula for track-use charges. During the restructuring of the bankrupt northeast railroads into Consoli- dated Rail Corporation (Conrail), Amtrak also acquired ownership of most of the NEC between Boston, Massachusetts, and Washington, D.C. In 1976, Conrail was founded as a government-owned freight railroad to take over the assets and services of the bankrupt northeastern freight carriers. Substantial funds were also provided to offset continued operating losses and to overcome deferred maintenance. The Staggers Rail Act of 1980 finally relieved all freight carriers from most, though not all, fed- eral regulation of rail rates and services and simplified the regulatory process associated with rail- road mergers, line sales, and abandonments. Finally the Northeast Rail Service Act (NERSA) of 1981 separated passenger and freight ser- vices in the northeast, allowing Conrail to develop as a purely freight railroad and return to the private sector. State and local agencies in the Northeast became fully responsible for commuter rail services, in most cases by establishing their own commuter rail operations. These measures were successful. After massive downsizing, Conrail prospered and was priva- tized in 1987, and the entire rail freight industry entered a new era of sound financial perfor- mance. The commuter agencies also prospered with new equipment, some new routes, and ridership growth. Outside the Northeast, responsibility for commuter rail services in Chicago and San Francisco were transferred in stages to regional public transportation agencies, which either set up their own operations or contracted for operations and maintenance (O&M) with Amtrak or the freight railroad that formerly operated the service. The commuter rail agreements were purely local in nature and did not include any nation- wide rights of access to rail freight networks for commuter rail services or generally applicable