Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET)
During the Great War, getting the troops to their training centers, then to ports of embarkation, and finally across the Atlantic was such a mammoth undertaking and had to be executed on such an emergency basis that confusion and mismanagement could hardly have been unexpected. To co-ordinate rail transportation, the government established a Railway War Board, which later became the Railroad Administration, but so congested did the railroads become that the government eventually seized and ran them through the Railroad Administration.
Under its Railroads and Highways for National Defense program, DOD, with the support of the Department of Transportation (DOT), ensures the Nation's rail and highway infrastructure can support defense emergencies. The Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) consists of 38,800 miles of rail lines important to national defense and provides service to 193 defense installations whose mission requires rail service.
The military places heavy and direct reliance on railroads to integrate bases and connect installations to predominantly maritime ports of embarkation. Mainlines, connectors, and clearance lines must all combine to support movement of heavy and/or oversized equipment. To ensure that military needs are factored into railroad industry decisions that may impact on national defense, the Department of Defense relies on the Military Traffic Management Command (MTMC). In this capacity, MTMC identifies facilities of the railroad infrastructure important to national defense, informs the commercial and civil sectors of Defense needs, and encourages the retention and upkeep of railroad assets vital to support military movements.
To ensure this continuity and coordination, MTMC has created the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET). STRACNET has identified 32,500 miles of rail line critical for movement of essential military equipment to ports located around the country as well as another 5,000 miles of track essential to connect one facility to another.
In addition to identifying key lines and facilities, MTMC also conducts analysis of potential railroad industry construction, mergers, bankruptcies, and abandonments to determine how any of these actions may affect DOD mobility capabilities. Since 1976, MTMC has reviewed more than 2,100 abandonments affecting 33,000 miles of track, as well as eight bankruptcies affecting more 1/3 of the nation's railroad network. MTMC analysis and reviews are the main source of DOD input to the railroad industry in attempts to preclude the loss of a critical section of track or facility that is essential to effective movement of heavy military lift requirements.
The Railroads for National Defense Program (RND) ensures the readiness capability of the national railroad network to support defense deployment and peacetime needs. The Program works to integrate defense rail needs into civil sector planning affecting the Nation's railroad system. Rail transportation is extremely important to DOD since the predominance of our heavy and tracked vehicles will deploy by rail to seaports of embarkation. The RND Program in conjunction with the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), established the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) to ensure DOD's minimum rail needs are identified and coordinated with appropriate transportation authorities. STRACNET is an interconnected and continuous rail line network consisting of over 38,000 miles of track serving over 170 defense installations.
Military Traffic Management Command's Transportation Engineering Agency (MTMCTEA) works with state DOTs, the American Association of Railroads (AAR), the Surface Transportation Board (STB), the American Railway Engineering and Maintenance of Way Association (AREMA), the Railway Industrial Clearance Association (RICA), the FRA, and individual railroad companies to protect this railroad infrastructure.
The Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has defined a core rail system known as Principal Railroad Lines. These rail lines have the following attributes: Amtrak service; National defense essential; or annual freight volumes exceeding 20 million gross ton-miles per mile (MGTM/M). An advantage of the Strategic Rail Corridor Network (STRACNET) is the ability of these lines to transport oversize (high/wide) loads.
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