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CHAPTER 2 Getting Started and Negotiations 2.1 Introduction 2.1.1 Content of Section This chapter addresses the process of negotiating with an existing owner and operator (or oper- ators) of a railroad corridor over which new or expanded passenger rail service is under consid- eration. Processes for both Amtrak intercity services and commuter operations are included. The following sections provide step-by-step guidance for getting started on this process, working through all stages to reach a successful conclusion. The specific areas addressed are: Section 2.2, Planning and Preparation, covers the essential homework that an agency planning a new or expanded passenger rail service needs to complete before approaching a prospective host railroad. Section 2.3, Initial Discussions with the Host Railroad, covers consideration of when to con- tact the prospective host, the nature of initial meetings, carrying out a credible feasibility study for the proposed service, and what is needed to be able to enter substantive negotiations. Section 2.4, Substantive Negotiations, provides general guidance of how best to conduct the negotiations to maximize the chance of a successful outcome and the typical factors that must be addressed. After the general guidance, specific key issues such as rail line capacity and per- formance requirements are discussed. Section 2.5, The Liability Issue, discusses the issue that is often the most challenging for agen- cies seeking to implement passenger rail service, the issue of host railroad requirements for protection against the liabilities associated with passenger operations, and how these require- ments can be met. Negotiating for access to a rail corridor for a proposed service is only one part of the effort that a state or local agency must make to establish the proposed service. The agency must also build public support for the project, develop ridership and revenue estimates, estimate costs and obtain capital and operating funds, complete permitting as required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) and other applicable state and federal legislation, secure necessary legislative actions at all levels of government, and attend to other related issues. Access negotiations must be coordinated with these activities, as indicated in the following subsections. One factor that pervades all passenger rail planning and negotiations for shared corridor oper- ations is the distinction between Amtrak intercity and commuter service. Amtrak's right of access to the railroad system at incremental cost and its existing operating agreements with major rail- roads mean that Amtrak must be involved in any intercity passenger rail development. The issues to be addressed in intercity passenger service negotiations differ substantially from those for a commuter rail initiative. The practical effect of these differences on negotiations at each stage in the process is summarized in Section 2.2 and addressed in each subsequent section as required. 9