Shared rail corridors could be better shared, Conference Board of Canada says (9/22/2010)


Passenger and freight trains should try harder to share most rail corridors in Canada to prevent delays that could divert more freight and commuter traffic onto congested highways, according to a report recently issued by the Conference Board of Canada, a non-profit research organization.

Titled “Shared Corridors, Strange Bedfellows: Understanding the Interface Between Freight and Passenger Rail,” the report provides an overview of the main issues surrounding shared rail corridors. To realize public benefits and respect commercial interests, freight and passenger railroads should better work together to optimize capacity on existing shared corridors and boost capacity in areas where there is justified commercial and/or public interests, such as socio-economic and environmental impacts, according to the report.

“The increase in commuter-rail services over the past decade and the pre-recession boom in rail freight created bottlenecks on Canadian railways" said Gilles Rhéaume, vice president of public policy for Conference Board of Canada, in a prepared statement. “The bulk of rail lines are privately owned, but there are important public issues at stake in managing passenger and freight traffic in rail corridors.”

The report suggests that passenger railroads buy existing lines from freight railroads, thereby enabling passenger-rail operators to better control their traffic. In addition, passenger railroads could outsource rolling stock maintenance to third-party providers.

Class Is “can and are continuing to” optimize their networks, most notably by purchasing key U.S. regional railways, according to the report. For example, CN last year acquired the Elgin, Joliet & Eastern Railway that encircles Chicago, enabling the Class I to move its trains out of the urban core, the report states.

Source: Progressive Railroading Daily News