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Home / News & Reviews / News Wire / Ohio governor asks state agency to explore Amtrak expansion

Ohio governor asks state agency to explore Amtrak expansion

By | May 17, 2022

Rail Development Commission will seek more information on routes, costs

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Map showing current and possible passenger rail routes in Ohio
Map showing current and possible passenger rail routes in Ohio
A detail from Amtrak’s “Connects US” map shows proposed new service for Ohio (in light blue) as well as existing routes. (Amtrak)

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine has asked the state’s rail agency to explore the “feasibility and cost” of potential expansion of Amtrak service in the state, the first time DeWine has indicated interest in further pursuing new routes included in Amtrak’s “Connects US” proposal.

Cleveland.com reports that a spokesman for the governor said DeWine asked the Ohio Rail Development Commission, part of the state department of transportation, to “work collaboratively” with Amtrak on gathering more information.

Foremost among Ohio proposals in the “Connects US” document released by Amtrak last year is service connecting Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati, which the passenger railroad suggests should see three round trips daily. Also among the proposals are Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit; Chicago-Cincinnati; Cleveland-Buffalo-Albany-New York; and extension of the Pennsylvanian from Pittsburgh to Cleveland.

A Columbus Dispatch article says it could take eight months to a year to develop the report to determine routes, assess costs and infrastructure needs, and look at environmental impacts. The state would then need to decide on making a financial commitment.

State support will be needed to launch any new service; criteria for pursuing possible new routes were released last week by the Federal Railroad Administration [see “FRA unveils Corridor ID …,” Trains News Wire, May 17, 2022].

 

8 thoughts on “Ohio governor asks state agency to explore Amtrak expansion

  1. I seem to have a long memory. I think it may have been in the exact same interview that Amtrak president Paul Reistrup made two points both of which pertain to the above article. If so quite a coincidence.

    (1) He said three daily frequency or you’re wasting your time, don’t bother. Above is proposed 3x daily.

    (2) He said the Three-C corridor wasn’t necessarily viable, just because all three are in the same state. (That was a half century ago; Columbus had grown since then.)

    Pittsfield and Boston are in the same state; we’ve had that discussion on these pages. If Pittsfield had somehow ended up in New York State or Vermont, instead of Massachuetts, no Massachusetts politician would propose a Boston to Pittsfield corridor. Milwaukee and LaCrosse are in the same state, but there’s a whole lot of people in each city that never go to the other one.

  2. For now, at least, interested states lack the support of federal resources, given the dearth of experience in the FRA Administrator and Secretary DOT, unlike when Ron Batory ran the FRA.

    Accordingly, these states would be wise to study the success of California’s Joint Powers Authorities (JPA) responsible for managing and marketing its regional passenger rail services. Importantly, unlike other state rail agencies, these JPAs do not hesitate to call out Amtrak for incorrect cost allocations and overcharges; know the difference between cost:price.

    Acknowledging Amtrak’s fatal mistakes re safety, forcing out experienced employees for the sake of corporate management’s bonus, over zealously cutting employees in the pandemic, etc, states interested in passenger rail should learn to acquire their own resources for planning and implementation; to avoid depending upon Amtrak.

    At what point when operational costs are introduced will any state question why Gardner created a version of ‘Animal Farm’ where states are required to pay for their passenger rail below 750 miles, except those states along the NEC that are not charged for their twice per hour Boston-Washington Amtrak trains, nor for the infrastructure.

  3. Folks, no need for more studies as there should be a warehouse of studies dating to’ the recent proposal under Democratic Brown for 3/C service which the new incoming Republican governor Kaisck cancelled. Plus the volumes from the decades ago when a most vocal state representative from Toledo had a ballot
    measure for 3/C service [defeated]. So those reports only need to be updated.

    Service? I used the PRR SPIRIT OF ST. LOUIS or the PENN TEXAS for my trips from
    Cols. to NYC plus Amtrak’s replacement NATIONAL LTD. until ‘killed’ by Jimmy Carter using questionable statistics. Convenient evening PM departures from
    Cols. in my roomette with AM-NYC. Same schedule west bound out of NYC.
    Naturally any resurrection of this routing will need $$$ support from MO-ILL-
    IND-OHIO-PA-NJ-NYC. But, with advertising, such a route is viable.

    Bill Grant
    Cols. OH

  4. This seems to be another CONSULTANT welfare bill. Not sure how much of the former (C.C.C.&St.L., NYC; Conrail) NS ROW is still double track. But ROW is intact. I-71 is busy. Infrastructure to handle equipment at both ends does not exist. Much work required to build facilities. But having grown up in Cincinnati and used the NYC route when the Ohio State Limited was a crack NYC train, I would love to see the route return. But I have doubts that the will in the state political mind to pay for this is there.

  5. Studies? More studies? You have probably 40 years of studies gathering dust. Millions have been spent on them. Probably enough to have funded the best study….run the service. This will take years to accomplish. There is no equipment. There are no mechanical facilities. Cleveland and Cincinnati are single track stations. Columbus does have a good location for their station and would probably be one of the first to be constructed. The current Cleveland station has room for more tracks if NS were to cooperate. But the station is hemmed in with little room for expansion of the station itself. I believe the 3C is mostly single track EXCEPT in the Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati areas.

  6. Amtrak needs to build its own tracks and stop whining and crying about the freight railroads.

  7. The routes proposed are logical travel points. The small expansion of some of the lines to other states makes sense and should help build more usage. However that also makes it harder to get it done since the other states would have to contribute funds to run the service. The proposed extension of the Pennsylvanian from Pittsburgh to Cleveland makes good sense since Cleveland is only served by trains that arrive at bad hours of the day. I fell that the intra state Ohio service should make sense. The last time I visited Ohio I took the train from Philadelphia to Pittsburgh and rented a car to get to Columbus. As mentioned in the other comments a through train from the east to Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati should get good ridership if it could be scheduled to arrive those Ohio cities at a reasonable time of day. Obviously some study needs to be done for both railroad capacity improvements and realistic ridership projections. But since as noted there were many previous studies they should not be overdone but updates to old studies. If too much money is spent on studies there will be less available to pay for the improvements and equipment needed to start the services.

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