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OCR for page 79
Ongoing Management of Shared-Use Operations 79 California, and the Downeaster service between Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine. The state agencies responsible for these services have invested heavily in track quality and capacity upgrades, and they want to maximize benefit from this investment. Also, both services carry a higher fraction of commuters and business travelers than other non-NEC services and need high service reliability and OTP to meet customer expectations. Both these sponsoring passenger rail agencies maintain an active staff to help manage the service. Functions performed by these agencies can include: Monitoring service performance and identifying and resolving service problems in cooperation with the host railroad and Amtrak. Planning and implementing service improvements, including schedule adjustments, station improvements (in cooperation with local communities), cooperative arrangements with connecting and parallel bus services, and route extensions. Marketing the service to the public, including a dedicated Web site, advertising, etc. Providing real-time service information (e.g., about train delays) via the Web site and other communications channels. Providing or funding add-on services, such as food service and on-train hosts. Amtrak continues to provide the core functions of train operations, equipment maintenance, and the basic access arrangement with the host railroad. Recommendations for passenger rail agencies that support Amtrak intercity services may be summarized as follows: Consistent high service quality can be maintained only by closely monitoring OTP, train delay metrics, and other quality measures and stepping in to help resolve service problems in coop- eration with Amtrak and the host railroad. Because of its primary operating agreement with the host railroad, Amtrak must lead cooper- ative efforts to resolve service problems, but it is important for the passenger rail agency spon- soring the service to be at the table to make sure that its concerns are heard and to participate in the solution, where appropriate. If the service sponsor has invested in the corridor (as is often the case), it will have more standing in the discussions and may be able to fund investment to improve service quality or overcome an identified problem. Conventional incentive programs for OTP will help add a few percentage points to the per- formance of an already competently managed operation. However, they do not provide an incentive to correct major operations issues. Where possible, the passenger rail agency, in cooperation with Amtrak, should establish an enforceable service performance agreement where the host railroad is required to correct service problems if performance falls below agreed-upon criteria. 5.4 Specific Approaches to Managing Commuter Services The general principles behind the recommendations for Amtrak intercity service also apply to commuter services operated over a host freight railroad, suitably adapted to commuter service institutional arrangements. These adaptations recognize the key differences between Amtrak inter- city and commuter service: There is no equivalent negotiations framework for commuter operations that compares to Amtrak's negotiations framework, and the commuter rail agency must manage all aspects of the host railroad relationship on its own.