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Policy Issues

​​​​​​​​​​​Passenger and Commuter Rail

AAR POLICY POSITION: Freight railroads support the negotiation of voluntary, case-by-case agreements to host commuter or passenger rail service.

 
In the United States, freight railroads provide the literal foundation for most intercity passenger rail. Other than the Northeast Corridor, Amtrak trains and state-supported route trains operate on tracks owned by freight railroads, as do most commuter railroads.

Expanding passenger rail operations over the nation's freight rail network involves significant opportunities and challenges. Host freight railroads follow these principles when considering proposals for commuter or passenger rail service: 

  • Safety First: Railroads are an extremely safe way to move people and freight, and everyone involved in railroading wants to keep it that way. That's why safety has to come first when it comes to passenger or commuter trains sharing track or rights-of-way with freight trains.
  • Access and Capacity: Passenger rail use of freight rail corridors should not compromise freight railroads' ability to serve present or future customers.
  • Full Compensation: Freight railroads should be compensated for the use of their tracks and not be expected to subsidize commuter or passenger railroads.
  • Liability Protection: Freight railroads require protection from the liability risks associated with passenger or commuter rail service. 
  • No One-Size Fits All Approach: Each project involving passenger rail on freight-owned corridors has unique challenges and circumstances that should be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.