A regional rail plan serves several purposes: First, it identifies and describes a common, long-term vision for regional passenger rail service and the required infrastructure network based on existing conditions, projections of future travel demand, and the optimal role for rail service in a multi-modal transportation context. An integrated vision for a regional rail network illustrates how links with local transit, aviation, highway, and non-motorized modes can create a seamless, integrated transportation system to carry travelers from origin to destination throughout the region in the most cost-effective manner. Secondly, it identifies the potential institutional arrangements, financial requirements, and planning and development activities needed to achieve the vision.
The Southwest Multi-State Rail Planning Study (SW Study) is the first regional rail planning study led by the FRA. The SW Study is a test case for the guidelines, tools, and performance standards developed in FRA’s national planning effort. Representatives from key transportation organizations across Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah worked through the challenges of developing multi-state rail plans and outlined a common preliminary technical vision for high-performance rail (HPR) in the Southwest as part of this Study. The Study demonstrates an analytical framework for developing early-stage HPR network planning concepts and examining the institutional context for establishing and implementing a long-range rail vision.
FRA is seeking to advance practices for regional rail planning and to further the development of regional plans. To achieve this goal, FRA has released a Call for Statements of Interest and Qualifications for Federally-Led Regional Rail Planning Projects.