Shared-Use Rail Corridors: Survey of Current Practice with Recommendations for the Future

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

planning - safety/accidents, planning - surveys, organisation - regulation, mode - rail


United States, Uniformity, Transit accidents, Surveys, State of the practice, Standardization, Standardisation, Shared use corridors, Regulation, Recommendations, Railways, Railroads, Railroad accidents, Rail transit, Harmonization, Harmonisation


Many urban rail transit systems share a common transportation corridor or right-of-way with FRA-compliant freight or passenger trains. Existing federal railroad safety statutes do not specify requirements for this sort of application. As the mileage of shared-use corridors increases, there is increasing concern among federal and state regulators, railroads, and transit agencies about the potential for accidents that could stem from FRA-compliant and noncompliant rolling stock operating near each other in a shared-use corridor. This paper describes the extent and characteristics of shared-use corridors in the United States, derived from a recent survey undertaken on behalf of the FRA. The paper provides an overview of current practice in the design and operation of shared-use corridors and suggests a need for research leading to standardizations of practice to address potential safety and regulatory concerns.