The Balancing Act of Passenger and Freight Rail
The City Block posted some weekend reading that I did not get to read until today — but it’s worth sharing since it provides a briefing on one of the biggest challenges of establishing new passenger rail systems: working with freight rail companies.
The blog post discusses the tension between freight rail and passenger rail in America. Many freight companies have been cautious about allowing passenger rail on their lines, for fear of slowing down business deliveries (due to the frequent stops that passenger rail usually has to make). Here’s an excerpt that gets at the core of the matter:
One core issue is defining the best balance between public and private interests. America’s railroads are private enterprises, and back in the day where they dominated all travel and enjoyed de facto monopolies on various markets, they were regulated accordingly. As transportation infrastructure financing shifted towards public funding (such as the interstate highway system), the regulatory structure did not evolve to meet the new realities. The current debate is essentially one of re-defining the proper roles for each of the partners in this mother of all public-private partnerships.
How can passenger rail and freight rail come together to be effective and efficient? What sort of incentives might convince freight rail companies to share its lines with passenger rail? Let me know your thoughts.