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Getting Started and Negotiations 23 based on anecdote and preconceived attitudes; rather, insist on addressing issues using mutually acceptable analysis methods to resolve questions and problems. A listing of spe- cific, technically described benchmarks for acceptable standards of service and infrastruc- ture should be developed and endorsed by each of the stakeholders in advance of the technical analysis. It is important to keep the discussions with the railroad confidential and mutually respect- ful until an agreement is reached. Many interviewees reported that confidentiality is criti- cal to successful negotiations. Neither party will want disagreements exposed and debated in the press, nor will they want to expose confidential information concerning the rail- road's business that may be discussed during negotiations. This confidentiality may be counter to the instincts of public officials who are used to working in the public eye and need to keep parent government departments, legislators, and the public adequately informed. In some states, "sunshine" laws may require disclosure but will allow exceptions where they can be justified. The best plan is for the negotiating parties to agree at the outset on how and when information will be communicated to the public and to address any "sunshine law" requirements up front. The specific technical issues that are typically addressed in negotiations are: Passenger service parameters--such as number of trips, journey time, and reliability--and the planned service evolution. Specific services to be provided by host railroad and other entities. Access agreements and cost of access, separate from infrastructure improvements. This issue primarily affects commuter service. Amtrak intercity access is usually covered by existing agreements. Infrastructure investments needed to provide adequate capacity to meet capacity and journey time requirements. Station requirements--locations, facilities required, interface with shared railroad tracks and operations. Contracting arrangements for executing infrastructure projects as associated costs. O&M costs (primarily for commuter service). Liability. The following section addresses the technical issues and suggests approaches the passenger agency can follow to secure a satisfactory agreement. It does not detail typical provisions of the final agreement between the passenger agency and host railroad--those are provided in Chapter 4--but rather discusses the process of getting from service plans detailed in the feasibility study to an agree- ment to operate the planned service on the host railroad. 2.4.1 Defining What the Passenger Agency Needs The passenger agency needs the following items going into the substantive negotiations with the railroad: A reasonably long-term plan--20 to 25 years into the future--for the proposed service, prefer- ably based on a state or regional long-term rail plan for both passenger and freight service. For example, if the ultimate goal is eight round trips per day to be reached over several years in var- ious stages, as funding and ridership growth permit, then this goal should be clearly stated in the plan, even if only two round trips will be operated at first. Only negotiating for the two trips and returning to develop new agreements for added trips is cumbersome, time consuming, and costly and could lead to failure. Ideally, a thorough feasibility study, appropriate to the scale of the proposed service, that estab- lishes reasonable expectations for service, expected ridership and revenue, the associated track

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24 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors improvements, and capital and operating costs. The feasibility study should also include expected growth in freight traffic to ensure that freight operations will not be impacted by the passenger service. Regardless of the level of detail in the feasibility study, a clear description of service expecta- tions at each stage in its development, to include the following: Number of daily round trips and approximate departure times in each direction. For exam- ple, with an intercity corridor, departures may be spread throughout the day, but commuter trips would be concentrated in morning and evening rush hours. Station stop locations and facilities and planned journey times. Service quality parameters, such as acceptable percentages of host-responsible delayed or cancelled trains, or average host-responsible delay per train. For an intercity service to be operated by Amtrak using Amtrak's access, Amtrak partici- pation in negotiations. The access agreement will be with Amtrak, which will operate the trains, usually with financial support from the state passenger rail agency. Therefore, an initial agreement with Amtrak to participate in negotiations is required. No such agree- ment is needed for commuter service, even if the passenger agency is considering Amtrak as a contract operator. Assured funding or at least a politically feasible plan to assemble capital and operating funds for the proposed service. A host railroad may be reluctant to negotiate unless it can see that funding is secured, or at least that the funding process is well advanced and the proposed ser- vice plans are credible given the funding status. A preliminary specification of the services desired from the host railroad. Dispatching and infrastructure inspection and maintenance are almost always provided by the host railroad. The passenger agency may be interested in other support, for example with train operations. Some railroads actively prefer to be responsible for operations, so that they do not have to work with a third-party contract operator. Some passenger rail agencies, for their own reasons, may be interested in operating a demon- stration service prior to implementing full-scale service. The service trial is intended to demon- strate feasibility to stakeholders and build support for the full service. The following services are examples where this approach was taken: The "Try-Rail" demonstration service on the Seattle to Tacoma route in Washington State, which preceded full implementation of the Sounder services. The initial service of the Altamont Commuter Express in northern California. The first route of the Music City Star commuter service in Nashville, Tennessee, implemented on a state-owned short line rather than a Class 1 freight railroad to reduce cost and speed up implementation. The advantages of the demonstration service approach are that the service can be imple- mented quickly and at modest cost; manageable with only local funding; provide all stake- holders with evidence of success that can be leveraged to increase funding from local, state, and federal sources; demonstrate feasibility and competence in freight railroad negotiations, etc. The downside is that the demonstration could fail and damage future prospects for pas- senger rail in the area. Also, note that demonstration service projects are far more easily arranged on light-density or short-line properties where disruption to the normal flow of freight traffic is at a minimum. Some Class 1 carriers will categorically deny "trial" operations out of fear that downstream politics surrounding a service proposal will become ever more difficult to keep in balance with the need for freight service capacity. In this case, it is proba- bly better to present the service as the first stage in a multi-stage development and work out an access agreement that accommodates all stages, even when timing and funding for future stages is uncertain.