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OCR for page 77
Ongoing Management of Shared-Use Operations 77 all cases, infrastructure investment will be needed over time to accommodate the growth, so the agreement should also define what is needed for each growth increment for each user and responsibility for funding the investment. Within this framework, the agreement should provide for the following types of revisions: Major revisions to provide for significant capacity increments and service performance for each user, together with plans for making the accompanying infrastructure investments. A procedure for initiating, financing, implementing, and managing capital investments in infrastructure. Minor intermediate revisions, such as to add trips up to the threshold that would trigger a major revision or to revise schedules. Day-to-day variations in service, such as to accommodate planned maintenance, to accommo- date extra trips for special events, or to respond to an unforeseen event. Revisions to the payment schedule used to calculate access and O&M charges levied by the host railroad on tenant operators. This revision would normally be used in response to cost inflation for railroad labor and materials, and annual adjustments are the norm. Additional adjustments may be appropriate when an infrastructure investment changes the condition or performance of track or signal systems. For example, an upgrade to allow higher speeds would change what has to be operated, inspected, and maintained, and thus costs. These contract provisions will be tailored to the needs of the individual services and the concerns of each corridor user. The following sections describe recommended practices in the area of monitoring service quality, especially OTP. There are large differences between these practices as they relate to Amtrak intercity corridors and to commuter services. Most important, Amtrak's operating agreements with the freight railroads govern service quality issues, including incentive pro- grams, and state passenger rail agencies in the past have had only a limited role. However, the advent of substantial investments by passenger rail agencies in intercity corridors expands the roles of state passenger rail agencies. The state agencies have to negotiate with both Amtrak and the host railroad to ensure that the investments will enable the host railroad to deliver the planned service (e.g., number of trips and journey times) and maintain the specified service quality. In the case of a commuter service, a state or local government agency is the principal in the access agreement with the host railroad and needs to be closely involved in ongoing arrangements for managing service quality. 5.3 Specific Approaches to Managing Amtrak Intercity Services With a few exceptions, Amtrak monitors service quality and OTP for all its services, whether Amtrak is the host or tenant railroad. Under applicable legal rights, Amtrak pays for access to a host railroad's tracks based on an incremental cost formula. Amtrak is also empow- ered to include an on-time incentive program in its host railroad agreements, by which Amtrak either imposes penalties for poor performance or provides incentive payments for good performance. Until recently, Amtrak's operating agreements with host railroads typically contained incen- tives and penalties based on an "OTP with exceptions" metric, i.e. incentives were based on a route's OTP, with host railroads allowed to claim exceptions in specified circumstances. For example, the agreement may impose penalties if the OTP metric falls below 70 percent and will make incentive payments on a sliding scale if OTP exceeds 80 percent. A train is considered "on time" if it arrives at the terminal station within a specified number of minutes of schedule.

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78 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors This time allowance is a function of the duration of the train's journey from origin to final des- tination. This agreement had two shortcomings from the point-of-view of a state agency that sponsors a short intercity corridor: The OTP metric and the definition of "on time" may be too loose for the needs of a short-haul corridor that might carry business travelers or commuters, where service quality expectations are high. In some cases, the OTP calculation was such that a few poorly performing services or trains resulted in a host railroad maxing out penalties, making it impossible for the railroad to earn incentive payments on remaining services. These arrangements proved inadequate as freight traffic grew. Concern over the cost of delays prompted Amtrak's move toward host-responsible delay minutes as the preferred and more effective metric, as described in Table 4-3 in Section 4.3. Poor OTP also led to the inclu- sion of various measures to enforce better OTP in PRIIA, as described previously in Section 5.2.1. In addition, FRA grants are now available under PRIIA and ARRA for projects to relieve rail- road congestion and reduce intercity passenger train delays. An agreement to make such an investment can include contractual limits on average delay, as described in Section 4.3.5, to ensure planned benefits are realized. Amtrak is making steady progress in revising the old agreements to reflect new metrics and standards being developed by the FRA and the comple- tion of infrastructure improvements. Amtrak monitors service performance closely. The host railroads report train location regu- larly to Amtrak's operations center, although these reports can sometimes be delayed or erratic. To enhance these reports, Amtrak has equipped all locomotives with GPS receivers that report locomotive position in real time. This information is supplemented by conductor event and delay reports, so service problems can be managed in real time and station displays, station staff, and waiting passengers can be advised of train status. The operations center also maintains contacts with host railroad operations centers to resolve problems. The reports also enable Amtrak to com- pile statistics of train delays and associated causes to monitor host railroad performance against agreed-upon performance standards. Thanks to PRIIA-required efforts to improve service performance, and more effective met- rics and contractual approaches, Amtrak now has more leverage with host railroads to insist on better service performance. However, there are cases where a rail corridor has chronic OTP problems caused by deep-seated operations or infrastructure conditions. In such cases, incentives and penalties may be insufficient to force the host railroad to shift priorities and expend the funds and effort to correct the problems in a timely fashion. However, if the cor- ridor is already well managed and does not have chronic problems, then the incentive can provide the impetus to "go the extra mile." In the case of chronic problems, Amtrak's practice is to sit down with the railroad to fully diag- nose root causes of delays and work out an improvement program that benefits both host and tenant. In one case of persistent excessive delays, the problems were traced to numerous slow orders and interference from track maintenance work. Amtrak agreed to a temporary extension of its schedule, in return for a firm plan from the host railroad to bring the track into a state of good repair over time. This plan allowed Amtrak to return to its original schedule in increments tied to the completion of individual projects. The plan helped the host railroad improve its freight operations as well, providing benefits for both parties. Some state-supported passenger services have found it beneficial to supplement Amtrak's ser- vice quality monitoring and management systems and to be more proactive in diagnosing and correcting OTP problems. Examples are the Capitol Corridor between San Jose and Sacramento,