The significant, if not fundamental shift in performance and mission of passenger rail services assumed by Amtrak, Metrolink and other commuter rail services requires managers of such services to produce modern, reliable performance well beyond the basic design and historic applications of steel-wheeled, steel rail trains. While all other forms of mass transportation have benefited from significant modernization and reengineering over the past fifty years, passenger trains’ rolling stock, technologies and safety equipment remain remarkably unchanged. This presents passenger rail service managers and operators with very limited options or opportunities to correct inefficiencies, or to modernize or improve the attractiveness of passenger rail services relative to other modes of transportation, including automobiles.
The inherent limitations of passenger rail equipment and technology, coupled with the absence of incentives for railroad companies to improve or modify their infrastructure, leaves managers and operators of passenger train services with little or no control over the conditions under which they must operate. With no change in these operational conditions likely to materialize, passenger and commuter train service providers should seriously consider development of separate and exclusive track systems, such as monorails, which can be constructed in railroad rights of way without interference or conflict between freight railroad operations and passenger services.