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42 4.2.1.4 Locations of Constraints Constrained Capital Budgets--The number one barrier is constrained capital budgets. This is why the industry has put In developing low-cost, quickly implementable improve- so much of its public and government relations effort into ments to address freight mobility constraints on the highway getting across the message that their financial returns must system, it is important to understand not only the causes but be adequate to support reinvestment in the industry. Rail- also the locations within the freight transportation network roads need to achieve returns greater than the cost of raising where these constraints are most severe and prevalent. Urban new capital, in order to avoid loss of capital through decreas- and metropolitan areas were identified as being the source of ing sales of common stock, wearing out of track and equip- the majority of mobility constraints. In particular, the north- ment, and eventual abandonment of facilities. eastern United States has the most infrastructure deficiencies, Skilled Labor--The second ranked barrier is the task of sup- perhaps due to the age of the infrastructure and urban areas plying skilled labor. Demographic trends mean that a great that are located closer together. It was, however, noted that many seasoned railroad employees are at retirement age. large urban and metropolitan areas offer alternate routes While replacement of labor with high-productivity capital more frequently than small to mid-sized areas. equipment continues at a rapid pace, the hiring and train- In addition to regions of the country, respondents noted that mobility constraints significantly impact several different ing tasks facing railroads are of large scope and challenging types of facilities. Facilities with the most inefficient freight content. Federal and State Regulations--The industry has pushed movements include marine ports, U.S. land border cross- ings, major bridges in the Northeast, and unionized facilities, for more use of performance-based safety regulations with according to the data collected. automated monitoring--in place of the age-old regime of Congestion on the highway system is most apparent at bot- command and control rules backed up with visual inspec- tlenecks such as interchanges, as opposed to mainline highway tions. One respondent noted the implications of commu- links. The locations of most physical constraints include: nity objections to increased rail--the largest constraint on rail-based mobility is likely to be local regulation, and in Interchanges, particularly ones with at-grade merge and particular the desire of towns to avoid hosting freight han- weave conditions such as occur at cloverleaf interchanges dling facilities. This is happening on a small scale with small Areas of "lane drops" where trucks must change lanes to transload facilities on short lines and on a grand scale with continue a through movement the resistance of northern Illinois suburbs to the increased Short acceleration and deceleration lanes, which do not use of the Elgin, Joliet, and Eastern Railway (EJ&E) as a allow trucks to gain adequate speed to merge into traffic or freight route. This issue has major implications for the rail to slow down outside of a general purpose lane industry and its ability to solve freight mobility issues for Steep grades the country. Metered freeway on-ramps Intersections with inadequate numbers of turn lanes or Rail infrastructure consists of track and structures, terminals through lanes. or yards, locomotives, cars, and signals and communication systems. Thus constraints to the movement of freight by rail The locations of operational constraints include the can be defined in terms of these infrastructure components: following: Mainline throughput capacity restrictions seem to be the Construction zones most serious freight mobility constraint facing railroads at Signalized intersections this time, although the opinion was far from unanimous. Weigh stations Terminals and their switching efficiency seem to be the next Toll facilities most persistent constraint. While merchandise or mani- Port terminals fest trains (sometimes referred to as "loose car" railroad- Border crossings ing) requiring handling in classification yards seem to be Intermodal connectors in decline relative to unit and double-stack trains (DSTs), Rail yards. bottlenecks persist in car switching, train marshalling, and running maintenance/train servicing functions handled in railroad terminals. 4.2.2 Railroads Considerable tension exists between short-line operators The respondents were also asked to list and rank constraints and the large (Class I) railroads at the point of their inter- that significantly impact rail freight mobility. The top ranked face--typically, a terminal or switching facility owned by freight mobility constraints are: the Class I. If the terminal is congested, the owner's super-