As transportation corridors become an ever more important asset, existing rail freight corridors are under increasing pressure to be shared for transit purposes. In defining the expanded corridor use a comprehensive look at factors was undertaken on behalf of Transport Canada by AECOM. Understanding the issues is imperative in navigating this complex subject. In locations where the transit network and expected ridership-generation points are compatible with existing railway networks, the best use of a network of corridors for freight and transit should be one of the first steps in municipal and regional planning. Finding a best use of existing network typically does not happen for two reasons. First, the public entities typically do not observe the complete “freight network” and have a limited stake in its function and complexity. Unlike public roads or transit, public entities tend to look at single opportunities such as little used freight segments, or specific corridors that they can afford to pursue with a specific public purpose. As a result, freight railways often find themselves responding to a specific request for a segment in the context of their network and whether it serve a functional need. Second, the private freight railways similarly do not have opportunity or patience to investigate the public contribution to their networks. The point of view of what might be done if the potential transit services were understood and what it could mean to freight business with capital investment in an improved and/or rationalized freight delivery system may be hard to define, and the benefits may only occur in the distant future. They have a priority to pursue their immediate business model and therefore tend to wait until the public entity comes forward and asks about a specific corridor or opportunity. The issue of assets inventory, rationalization paired with transit planning, is the first step in evaluating efficient transportation systems through urban centres. Furthermore, the ability of some transit vehicles to be used on both on dedicated railway transit corridors, where it makes sense, as well as for street services, provide for greater flexibility in transit networks. What is missing is a review of freight networks from a regional perspective relative to all potential transit routes. The first question to be asked when looking at the freight network of an urban area is: where is it going, why is it going there, and could it be handled more effectively, and if so what are the overall benefits to all parties.

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