RAILS-TO-TRAILS CONSERVANCY
23
IV.
RAIL-WITH-TRAIL SURVEY FINDINGS
Railroad Operations and Attitude Toward Trail Development
Consistent with trends identified in RTC’s
Rails-with-Trails
report in 2000, rails-with-trails continue to be developed along a wide variety of active railroad
corridors, demonstrating their ability to coexist with many different types of railroads and under a diverse range of conditions.
Characteristics of Operating Railroads
Corridor width
Nearly half (43) of the railroad corridor rights-of-way studied in this report were between 31 and 100 feet wide.
Railroad type
Rails-with-trails are developed within and alongside many different types of operating rail service (freight, transit, tourist, etc.), with
the most common being freight. Several trails are located beside railroad tracks that serve multiple types of railroads. For example, the Metropolitan
Branch Trail in Washington, D.C. is alongside a CSX corridor that Amtrak and a regional commuter railroad operate on, while another segment of the
trail is located within a few feet of Metro, D.C.’s rapid transit system.
Width of railroad corridor
When a range was given, the smallest number was used
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
101–150
ft.
151–200
ft.
>200 ft.
61–100
ft.
31–60
ft.
0–30
ft.
Unknown/
No answer
Frequency of rail service
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
1/
day
2–5/
days
6–10/
days
>1/week
1/
week
<1/week
Unknown
11–20/
days
21–31
+/days
Maximum train speed
30–40
mph
40–50
mph
50–60
mph
20–30
mph
10–20
mph
<10 mph
Unknown/
no answer
>60 mph
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
Type of railroad operation
Some trail managers reported multiple types of rail service
0%
5%
10%
15%
20%
25%
30%
35%
40%
45%
Class I
freight
Class II or
other freight
(
regional or
shortline)
Publicly-
owned
passenger
(
regional
commuter rail)
Tourist or
excursion
train
Amtrak Rapid
transit or
light rail
Unknown
Train frequency
Most trails are located beside rail corridors that receive service on a daily basis, and a quarter of trails reported that rail service
runs more than 20 times a day. Several trails that share corridors with urban transit systems experience high rail traffic. A segment of the Watts
Towers Crescent Greenway is beside the LA Metro, operated by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which runs six trains
per hour.
Train speed
Maximum train speed varies widely, with trail managers reporting speeds of less than 10 mph and more than 60 mph. A majority
of trails reporting train speed indicated speeds between 30 and 60 mph. This is consistent with findings from our 2000 study which reported an
average maximum train speed of 32 mph and a range of train speeds between 5 and 150 mph.