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20 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors Another factor in facilitating agreements may be the state's freight rail transportation programs. Many states have a freight rail program aimed at enhancing rail access for the region's industry and commerce and preserving lower-volume rail service where it is important to the local economy. In addition, state and local government agencies interact with freight railroads in many areas other than direct support for rail facilities and may have a number of discussions in progress at any one time. In some cases, it may be possible to incorporate both passenger and freight elements into a combined transportation initiative involving the freight railroad. In other areas, it may be possible to leverage a positive relationship with a freight railroad to enhance the chance of reaching agree- ment on a passenger rail project. 2.3.2 The Feasibility Study After the initial contacts with the railroad, the next step in developing a new passenger rail ser- vice is to perform a feasibility study or build on existing studies to include detailed analysis of the proposed route, service, and operations. The feasibility study is a vital step in moving from plan- ning and informational contacts with the host railroad to substantive negotiations. This discus- sion concentrates on aspects of a feasibility study relevant to negotiations with the host railroad and Amtrak. The inputs for the feasibility study include any prior studies for passenger rail in the region served by the proposed service, the State Rail Plan (where available), the vision for the proposed service, any other previous studies, and railroad inputs. The scope and objectives for the study would have been discussed between the passenger rail agency, the host railroad, and Amtrak where applicable, at initial meetings. They are likely to include the following elements: · A staged plan for the introduction and growth of the proposed service. This plan includes target journey times, planned station locations, daily trips with target departure times in each direction, and anticipated freight service on the corridor at each stage. It is assumed that passen- ger ridership and revenue estimates are available, indicating that the planned level of service at each would be adequately patronized, but this is not specifically part of an operational feasibil- ity study. There does not have to be a schedule for implementing each stage, only a logical pro- gression toward a final goal. · Plans for infrastructure investments that would enable each stage of service growth to be implemented while providing adequate facilities to meet the host railroad's goals for freight service. The investments will include track quality upgrades, signal system upgrades, grade crossing warning system improvements, crossing consolidations and grade separations, the addition of passing sidings and/or a second track where required, and similar matters. Signal system requirements for positive train control (PTC) and for speeds over 79 mph must be included. · Plans for station locations and facilities. These plans will include what buildings and facilities (such as parking lots) are planned, access to the station for vehicles or pedestrians (especially where access routes cross active tracks), safety of passengers while at the station and boarding trains, and whether the passenger rail agency plans to acquire railroad property for station buildings and facilities. · An initial capital cost estimate for the first stage in developing the proposed service and an outline of cost estimates for later stages. The capital cost estimates should include costs to be borne by the passenger agency and the host railroad, where applicable. · Initial estimates for operations and maintenance costs at each level of service. As for capital costs, estimates should be detailed for the first stage and may be preliminary for later stages. · Plans for funding capital and operating expenses, including from federal grant programs, where applicable, as well as from state and local sources.
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Getting Started and Negotiations 21 · Requirements for passenger cars and locomotives or self-propelled passenger cars to support the proposed services, including number of vehicles, performance requirements (e.g., top speed, power/weight ratios), whether or not electrification is planned at some stage, and whether the passenger rail agency or Amtrak will provide equipment. The approach for a typical feasibility study is illustrated in Figure 2-2. Some observations about the feasibility study follow: · If at all possible, the host railroad should be closely involved in the feasibility study to facilitate buy-in with the results. This involvement will help speed up the substantive negotiations and Getting Started Finalize scope and objectives in consultation with host railroad and Amtrak. Select consultant (if required) and define participation by railroad and/or Amtrak, including participation in oversight or review group, provision of data, and involvement in analysis. Prepare detailed work plan for study. Define Service Goals Target journey times and station locations. Identify desired number of daily trips. Set expected accommodations on train. Identify needs for each stage of service development. Service quality--on-time performance, maximum delays Gather Data Gather existing route information--number of tracks, location of passing sidings and industry connections, signal systems, grades and curvature, posted speeds, etc. Gather existing freight and passenger traffic information (if any)--schedules and types of trains (through or local freight, intercity or commuter). Perform Operations Analyses Perform preliminary capacity analyses and operations simulations, as discussed in Section 3.2. Perform train operations analysis to estimate car and locomotive needs. Perform capital cost analysis, as discussed in Section 3.3, including for passenger stations and maintenance facilities. Perform operations and maintenance cost analysis, as discussed in Section 3.4. Document Results Gather results for each service development stage, which include: Proposed physical infrastructure investments (track upgrades, sidings and double track, signal systems, etc.). Investment cost. Expected service performance. Operations and maintenance costs. Passenger car and locomotive requirements. Figure 2-2. Steps for completing a passenger rail service feasibility study.