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Content of Shared-Use Access and Operating Agreements 65 Operations Host or Passenger and Tenant Rail Agency Maintenance Railroad Contractor(s) Operating Agreement for Agreement Specifying Tenant Access to Host's Service Parameters, Service Corridor for Specified Quality, Charges, Fare Service. If passenger Collection Procedures, etc. Service is Tenant, Capital Funding for Route Improvements Figure 4-3. Primary contract relationships for commuter service. The contractual relationships for commuter service differ from those required for an Amtrak- operated intercity service specifically as described: Commuter rail agencies often purchase the corridor from a former freight railroad owner. In this case, the former freight railroad usually negotiates an operating agreement to allow con- tinued freight service in the corridor, often with time-of-day and other restrictions. If the freight railroad retains ownership of the corridor, the commuter rail agency has to nego- tiate an operating agreement with the freight railroad. Unlike Amtrak intercity service, the com- muter rail agency lacks Amtrak's access rights and must negotiate at arm's length. However, if the parties in a commuter rail access negotiation are unable to reach agreement, they can request non-binding mediation under Section 401 of PRIIA. The contract operator's primary relationship is with the commuter rail agency. However, the passenger service operator must comply with any agreements with a host freight railroad con- cerning passenger rail operations (for example, to maintain safe operations) and for agreed- upon freight operations if the commuter rail agency owns the corridor. These contract provisions are incorporated into the contract operator's agreement with the commuter rail agency. There is no agreement between the contract operator and the host railroad, if the host is not the commuter rail agency. The contract operator simply provides services for the com- muter rail agency and must comply with the terms of the agency's agreement with the host railroad. 4.4.2 Inputs to and Preparations for Finalizing Commuter Rail Operating Agreements The inputs and preparations for finalizing commuter rail operating agreements are gener- ally similar to those for intercity passenger rail service. The major differences are that there is no entity that plays a role similar to Amtrak and that it is much more common for the com- muter rail agency to purchase the ROW before initiating service, thereby reversing the rela- tionship between the commuter rail agency and a railroad providing freight service in the corridor. Long-Term Vision Plan The commuter rail agency should have a long-term vision plan for the development of railroad services in the state or region. Ideally the plan should include both freight and passenger rail ser- vices and have been prepared by the agency in consultation with other state agencies having an inter- est in transportation, as well as with providers of rail and related services of all types. With regard to passenger service, the plan should describe the long-term goal for passenger rail developments-- commuter and intercity--and the principal steps in developing services between the present and the goal. Because all types of rail service often need to operate over shared ROWs, the vision plan will

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66 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors help ensure that interrelationships between services are considered in advancing plans for individ- ual services and projects. Such consideration is important to minimize the chance that decisions made for one service could limit options for other services. Feasibility or Planning Study A detailed plan and feasibility study for the proposed commuter rail service is required, pre- pared in cooperation with other rail corridor users, such as Amtrak and a freight railroad. As noted previously, some host freight railroads prefer to be deeply involved in feasibility studies to make sure that their concerns are addressed, and others prefer only limited involvement. The feasibil- ity plan differs from the vision plan in that it focuses on the one corridor and service, rather than a whole state or region, but both should be long term, covering a period that reflects the service life of infrastructure investments. Almost all commuter rail projects involve investment in rail- road infrastructure, including ROW, track and signal improvements, station and terminal investments, and often purchase or lease of the ROW. These investments have a service life of at least 20 years, and the long-term plan is essential to ensure that benefits from the invest- ments are fully realized. The feasibility study starts with the goals for the service at each stage in its development, such as: Target journey times, station locations, and train departure times. Desired number of daily trips. Planned accommodations on train. The results of the study are the actions needed to accomplish the planned service at each devel- opment stage, including: Approach to obtaining access to the corridor (purchase, long-term lease, permanent easement), as discussed in Section 4.4.3. Proposed physical infrastructure investments (track upgrades, sidings and double track, signal systems, etc.). Implementation of infrastructure investments may be staged as patron- age grows. Estimated cost of infrastructure investments and proposed funding sources. Expected service performance--number of trips, station stops, trip time, OTP, and service quality. O&M requirements and the associated costs, including where specific maintenance activities are required to ensure planned service quality. Passenger car and locomotive requirements, and plans for acquisition and maintenance of suitable equipment for the planned service. Because there will be considerable uncertainty regarding markets for passenger and freight rail services and the availability of funding for passenger rail capital and operating expenses, the plans must be flexible and structured to respond to unexpected developments. Provision for regular reviews and updates is essential. The penalties for not planning ahead can be substantial. Focusing on just the short term-- thinking "just get the service started and then worry about the long term later"--can lead to missed opportunities. When further development is needed to meet increasing patronage, agen- cies lacking a basic long-term framework that has been agreed to with other corridor users have found it very difficult or costly to take the next step. Making Access Agreements and Contracts Detailed, Unambiguous, and Consistent with Long-Term Plans The agreements between railroads sharing a rail corridor must provide a long-term frame- work to give all parties assurance that their future business and service development will not be