OHIO – Amtrak is considering five major train routes that would service Ohio needs, connecting the three major cites in Ohio, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati.
Amtrak is proposing to congress multiple new initiatives to grow the passenger railways in Ohio. The new Corridor Development Program. Amtrak is requesting $300 million per year starting in federal fiscal year 2021 from Congress to develop high-potential corridors (routes under 750 miles). Once an agreement is in place with a state entity, Amtrak may pay up to 100 percent of the capital costs to initiate new or additional services. Amtrak may also provide 100 percent of the operating costs in the first two years, 90 percent in the third year, 80 percent in the fourth year and 50 percent in the fifth year. After that, the new service must be state supported in the same manner that 16 other states currently purchase service from Amtrak.
“This Corridor Development Program is a major policy shift for Amtrak,” said All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Stu Nicholson. “Since it began in 1971, Amtrak has been largely reactive and not proactive when it comes to its growth. This policy shift is very welcome and long overdue when it comes to dealing with states like Ohio that have almost no service and thus almost no political constituency to create a passenger rail development program. We hope that Congress will authorize and fully fund this Corridor Development Program.”
The five new routes are:
- Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati (3C) Corridor: three daily round trips with intermediate station stops;
- Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Chicago: four daily round trips with intermediate station stops;
- Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit-Pontiac: three daily round trips with intermediate station stops, including a possible extension of Wolverine Corridor train service from Chicago;
- Cleveland-Buffalo-Albany-New York: two daily round trips with intermediate station stops;
- Cleveland-Pittsburgh-New York: one daily round trip with intermediate station stops via an extension of Keystone Corridor train service.
“In physics, objects at rest tend to stay at rest,” Nicholson said. “Objects in motion tend to stay in motion. Ohio needs a catalyst to get a modern passenger rail system in motion. This potential federal Corridor Development Program is exactly the kind of catalyst Ohio needs to connect our six largest metropolitan areas to each other and to the left-behind regions of the state. Those six largest metros created 245,000 jobs in Ohio in the last five years and accounted for all of Ohio’s job growth.”
President Joe Biden, a longtime passenger rail supporter, has vowed a “second great railroad revolution.” And last year the U.S. House of Representatives passed the proposed new rail funding program but it died in the U.S. Senate. Now, with a split Senate under new leadership, the bill has a good chance to become reality.