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The Role of Public-Private Partnerships (P3s) for Delivering New and Expanded Intercity Passenger Rail Service


Public agencies may partner with rail service providers and infrastructure owner operators to allow the private sector to propose new passenger rail concepts, innovative business models, creative financing to deploy new and expand existing rail systems. Although P3s can take many forms, rail partnerships have the potential to share risk, innovate the delivery of rail capital projects, and allow the public sector to magnify the impact of limited fiscal resources.


Objectives include researching and documenting:

  • The role of P3s for the innovative delivery of new or extension of existing intercity passenger rail services (e.g., innovative financing, special purpose acquisition companies, shared rights-of-way, joint development, air rights, etc.);
  • Risk sharing models, opportunities, and challenges for the private sector to bridge funding gaps in publicly-sponsored intercity rail projects;
  • Identify legal and regulatory changes required to support and/or advance intercity passenger rail P3s;
  • Identify policies or practices that could enhance rail transit readiness for P3s;
  • Inventory case studies of successful intercity passenger rail P3s; and
  • Examine public sector policies that may support or impede intercity passenger rail P3s

The results of this research shall include the development of:

1) A framework that explores different P3 models, such as design-build-finance-operate-maintain, long-term leases with private firms to operate a public rail system, business deals such as naming rights, and other strategies; and

2) A primer/guidebook that identifies successful intercity passenger rail P3s and other innovative methods of delivering new or enhanced passenger rail service.

Sponsoring Committee:AR010, Passenger Rail Transportation
Research Period:6 - 12 months
Research Priority:High
RNS Developer:Karen Philbrick
Date Posted:05/20/2021
Date Modified:05/28/2021
Index Terms:Public private partnerships, Intercity transportation, Railroad transportation,
Cosponsoring Committees: 
Public Transportation
Administration and Management
Planning and Forecasting
Passenger Transportation

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