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80 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors Many commuter services are operated over track owned or leased by the commuter rail agency, and the agency sponsoring the service or its contractor will be responsible for track maintenance and dispatching. Although there may be issues with ensuring good contractor performance, the commuter rail agency is in a position to address problems directly, without the involvement of a host railroad. However, in many cases, commuter agencies have given a freight railroad access to their commuter corridors. In these cases, the freight operator will be the tenant and is likely to have concerns analogous to an intercity passenger service operating on a host freight railroad. Mechanisms to address freight service issues may be needed, such as monitoring performance, identifying problem areas, and taking corrective action in cooperation with the freight service operator. Almost all recently established commuter agencies rely on contractors to perform O&M activ- ities, including equipment maintenance and train operations. The contractor responsible for train operations will have day-to-day interaction with a host railroad, and it is essential to ensure that this relationship is constructive. If the commuter rail agency owns or leases the cor- ridor, then infrastructure maintenance and dispatching are added to contractor responsibili- ties, and the contractor must interact with a tenant freight service operator. Given this institutional framework, the recommended approaches to managing service quality of commuter operations on a host freight railroad include: The commuter rail agency must monitor service quality in real time and be ready to take action in case of a one-time or chronic service problem. In particular, this recommendation requires a clear definition of agency responsibilities vs. those of a train operations contractor regarding communication with the host railroad and the level at which decisions should be referred to the agency. The commuter rail agency is normally responsible for public communications on all matters affecting the service, whether a minor short-term emergency (like cancelling a train) or ongo- ing efforts to resolve a chronic service problem. In these communications, it is critical that the agency not blame problems on other parties or blindside the contractor or host railroad by releasing statements that have not been discussed in advance. Public discussion of disputes among the agency, host railroad, and contractor should be avoided. As with Amtrak intercity service, chronic service problems must be addressed cooperatively by the agency, host railroad, and contractor. The goal should be to identify the root causes of the problem and work out solutions that make sense for all parties. Often, it is possible to develop win-win solutions that benefit both freight and passenger operators. Some freight railroads have commented that respecting passenger schedules results in more operating discipline and reduced costs in operating the freight service. All commuter agencies establish an incentive program based on OTP or delay metrics. The base- line OTP is usually in the low 90 percent range, with the host railroad and/or contractor earn- ing bonuses for performance above that level. Penalties for low performance should be avoided. As with Amtrak intercity service, these types of incentive schemes add a few percentage points to OTP where the service is already well run but do not help with chronic service problems. It is critical to avoid ambiguity in defining and measuring service performance and deciding which exceptions, if any, are allowed. Also, where contractor and host railroads are jointly responsible for service quality, the commuter rail agency must have a mechanism to resolve disputes as to who was responsible for service problems. 5.5 Case Studies in Service Management The case studies in Appendix D yielded several good examples of approaches to maintaining high service quality in the face of the inevitable unpredictable events that can disrupt passenger rail ser- vice. One example is from the Capital Corridor in Northern California, where the CCJPA has the challenge of operating a high-frequency passenger service on a busy freight corridor. Another is an

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Ongoing Management of Shared-Use Operations 81 approach developed by the BNSF Railway, initially for the METRA commuter services it manages in the Chicago area, but now being applied to all commuter and intercity passenger rail services for which it is the host railroad. The third example is the Downeaster service, where good service qual- ity is maintained on a limited budget by careful attention to detail and maintaining good relation- ships with all stakeholders. The following summaries provide examples from these case studies. CASE STUDIES 5 Maintaining Service Quality on a Very Busy Corridor The portion of the Capital Corridor between Oakland and Sacramento, California, carries 32 one-way passenger trips and about 20 freight trains daily, making it one of the busiest shared corridors in the United States. The CCJPA has adopted a num- ber of strategies to maintain passenger service quality on this corridor, specifically: Maintaining track quality at FRA Class 5, one class above that needed for the speeds operated by FRA regulations. This maintenance greatly reduces the chance that a track defect or slow orders will slow passenger operations. CCJPA funds an additional year-round track maintenance crew and the additional cost of overnight maintenance activities. This funding allows maintenance to be carried out with minimum interference to daytime passenger operations, and the continuous attention reduces the likelihood of track quality falling below minimum standards. Generally, higher track quality and associated infrastructure investments permit higher freight train speeds, reducing differences between freight and passenger average speed and reducing operating interference. The CCJPA approach is relatively high cost, but it more than pays for itself in additional ridership and revenue attracted by quality service. CASE STUDIES 6 Using Structured Delay Analysis to Maintain Service Quality The BNSF Railway is the host railroad for several commuter and intercity passen- ger rail services. One of these services, a commuter rail line in Chicago, is oper- ated by BNSF under contract to METRA, the Chicago area commuter rail agency. To ensure reliable service, BNSF developed a methodology for structured delay analysis to identify and correct conditions that were preventing reliable service. The approach, an adaptation of a process used by British Rail, involves assigning each delay to 1 of 19 cause categories and researching the root causes of cate- gories resulting in an unacceptable level of accumulated delay. BNSF staff work with the relevant railway departments to develop and implement corrective actions. Where a capital investment is the appropriate response to a delay prob- lem, the analysis provides BNSF with detailed data to support a request for funds. After success in Chicago, BNSF has extended the approach to all passenger services on the BNSF system. The decade of accumulated experience also enables BNSF to offer detailed advice to passenger rail authorities planning new services on exactly what is required to deliver high-quality service.

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82 Guidebook for Implementing Passenger Rail Service on Shared Passenger and Freight Corridors CASE STUDIES 7 Maintaining Service Quality on a Low-Budget Corridor NNEPRA is responsible for managing the Downeaster service between Boston, Massachusetts, and Portland, Maine. This service comprises five round trips per day over a relatively short 120-mile corridor. Major capital investments and highly structured analysis processes would be overkill for this corridor. Instead, NNEPRA has evolved an approach that relies on tapping the resources of all stakeholders involved in delivering the service to identify and resolve service problems. NNEPRA staff meets regularly with host railroads, Amtrak, communi- ties that host passenger stations, cooperating bus operators, state transportation officials, advocacy groups, and service vendors (such as on-board food service). Issues identified during these meetings are taken up with the party best placed to take corrective action. In addition, parties that are not directly involved in addressing a problem can be kept advised of what is happening and be reassured that NNEPRA is responding. This is especially important for state officials and advocacy groups. If an investment can be justified, then NNEPRA can take steps to obtain funds. NNEPRA believes it is important to meet regularly with stake- holders, even when there are no pressing matters to discuss. These regular meet- ings build rapport with the stakeholders so that they are more ready to help when approached with a problem.