Shared Use of Railroad Infrastructure with Non-FRA-Compliant Public Transit Rail Vehicles

There are two methods in which railroad corridors can be shared between public transit and freight rail operations. The first consists of public transit rail vehicles using existing railroad corridors, but not sharing the same track. The second method involves public transit rail vehicles sharing the same track with freight rail operations. The focus of this research is on the second method of shared use, particularly as it relates to sharing track with lighter public transit vehicles (e.g., light rail vehicles) that do not meet current Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) crashworthiness regulations. This "co-mingled" use of track with has enormous potential for public transit expansion because rail freight corridors that crisscross the nation often provide the only transportation corridors left to connect suburban development in many urban communities. Each potential shared-use corridor has a unique set of operating issues that requires development of new techniques, operating rules, and technology applications to allow the sharing of privately owned corridors that are becoming an increasingly valuable community asset. In other instances, transit agencies have acquired rail corridors but are required to maintain pre-existing freight services, or public transit operators have been able to reach shared- use agreements with existing railroads. In either case, the FRA maintains jurisdiction and oversees use of the corridors based on regulations, laws, and policies developed during a century of safety oversight of the railroad industry. Research is needed to better understand (a) the business case for the shared use of non-FRA-compliant public transit rail vehicles with freight operations; (b) potential business models for such shared-use operations; and (c) how technology, operating procedures, and techniques can be applied to address the key risks associated with these shared-use operations. The objective of this research is to develop a guide for practitioners that (1) provides a business case for the shared use of non-FRA-compliant public transit rail vehicles (e.g., light rail) with freight operations; (2) suggests business models for such shared-use operations; and (3) identifies and evaluates available and emerging technology, operating procedures, and techniques that could be used to minimize the risks associated with sharing of track between non-FRA-compliant public transit rail vehicles and freight railroad operations.


  • English


  • Status: Completed
  • Contract Numbers:

    Project A-27

  • Sponsor Organizations:

    Federal Transit Administration

    1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
    Washington, DC  USA  20590

    Transit Cooperative Research Program

    Transportation Research Board
    500 Fifth Street, NW
    Washington, DC    20001
  • Project Managers:

    Chisholm-Smith, Gwen

  • Performing Organizations:

    Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Incorporated

    8283 Greensboro Drive
    McLean, VA  USA  22102
  • Principal Investigators:

    Stangas, Paul

  • Start Date: 20050831
  • Actual Completion Date: 20090330
  • Source Data: RiP Project 10719

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01463066
  • Record Type: Research project
  • Source Agency: Transit Cooperative Research Program
  • Contract Numbers: Project A-27
  • Files: RiP, USDOT
  • Created Date: Jan 3 2013 2:16PM