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14 clearance projects which typically involve raising highway A recent study (26) examined current levels of rail freight bridges crossing rail lines to permit movement of double capacity. It focused upon the 52,340 miles of primary rail corri- stacked intermodal container trains) dors, which carry the majority of the nation's freight traffic. Upgrades to short-line and regional railroad tracks and Although the large majority of the current system is operating bridges to accommodate heavier (286,000 pound) freight at an acceptable level of service, the amount of excess capacity cars. on the rail network has diminished through two decades of growth, the study reports. It forecasts that if the 2035 rail freight Facility expansion includes: volumes were to occur on today's rail network, 30 percent of the major rail network would be operating above capacity and cre- Expansion of carload terminals, intermodal yards, and inter- ating severe congestion. Because of the interrelated nature of the nal gateway facilities owned by railroads nation's rail network, this congestion would affect every region Expansion of Class I railroad service and support facilities. of the country. The cost to keep pace with the level of growth was estimated to be $148 billion in constant dollars through Rail line capacity is determined by the following factors: 2035. Of this amount, the study estimates the railroads could contribute about $96 billion from expected income and opera- Number of tracks--double track allows trains to pass in tions. That leaves an investment gap of $39 billion, or $1.4 bil- opposite directions without stopping lion annually, to meet the rail capacity needs through 2035. Number and length of sidings Type of signaling--centralized traffic control yields higher 2.3.3 Low-Cost Improvements capacity Speed limits There is no clear definition of what constitutes a low-cost Grade and curvature action or strategy directed at addressing freight mobility con- Traffic mix. straints in the available literature. However, certain improve- ments to rail capacity are obviously needed to accommodate According to Immel and Burgel (27), measures of perfor- future freight growth. The cost of these improvements varies mance would include: from low to very expensive. Some of the improvements that could be considered "low-cost" because they fall within the Average speed low end of the cost spectrum include: Hours of delay Delay ratio. Track improvements, e.g., improve passing sidings Changes in control types (e.g., from No Signal to Centralized Traffic Control) 2.3.2 Freight Mobility Constraints Upgrade of communication system Railroads are beginning to experience severe capacity con- Track maintenance straints in areas where commuter and intercity passenger rail Branch line upgrades services share tracks with freight railroads (28). The follow- Expansion of carload terminals ing are some rail freight mobility constraints identified in the Joint use of facilities--pairing mainlines to provide direc- literature. tional running thereby increasing capacity Trackage rights agreements to improve efficiency of oper- Inadequate sidings ations without necessarily increasing capacity Switching conflicts especially for mixed-speed operation on Use of larger cars--further improvement may not be pos- single or dual track sible, at least for the Class I railroads. This option is also Yards and port terminals limited by capital/operating cost trade-offs. Lack of funding for track upgrades Outdated communication and signaling systems. The development of high-speed rail corridors, additional main lines, strategic overhead grade crossings, remote switch- Immel and Burgel (27) noted that rail capacity is also affected ing from the cab, and radar in all locomotives to prevent rear- by (i) speed and length of trains, (ii) differing priorities, and end collisions now presents a unique opportunity to develop (iii) the number and types of facilities in the same area served an extremely efficient intermodal freight system with sub- by the rail lines. Thus, adding capacity may require changes in stantial energy, environmental, and competitive advantages operating practices and investment in tracks, signals, and other that will benefit all modes of transportation and help mitigate facilities that directly impact capacity. capacity issues.