Mineta Transportation Institute (MTI) researchers identified the best practices and gaps to help California and other states with their future rail service plan development in the new study, A Model for Integrating Rail Services with Other Transportation Modalities: Identifying the Best Practices and the Gaps for California’s Next State Rail Plan.
The research was used to the California State Rail Plan (CSRP) to compare the state rail service plans for all 50 states.
The state plans examined in this research were those submitted to the FRA as of June 2020.
Research steps included:
Outlining the elements of FRA’s 2013 state rail plan guidance
Identifying and reviewing other sources of rail plans
Summarizing, comparing, and evaluating innovative practices of these plans
Preparing commentary and analysis identifying improvements that California and other states could make in preparing and submitting future rail service plans.
The following recommendations are offered:
1. Establish measurable performance standards
2. Enhance resilience of rail infrastructure
3. Draw on parallels of rail to interstate highway system
4. Innovate means of rail funding
5. Create decision making frameworks with tools to improve future system performance
6. Establish state and regional rail advisory bodies
7. Perform periodic review of rail plan implementation
8. Conduct active outreach to the public and stakeholders
9. Support ongoing initiatives by Caltrans
10. Revise FRA guidance to promote more nationally cohesive rail planning
“We found academic literature regarding optimal, state-level rail applications were consistent with the FRA’s state rail plan guidance,” said the study’s co-author Dr. Wenbin Wei. “A review of each state rail plan from across the county reflected differing attitudes, realities, and needs related to rail networks from state to state—identifying unique connections to their region, but also displaying lower levels of engagement in proficient rail planning.”