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Passenger Rail One Step Closer to Returning to Central Ohio after 40 Years


OHIO – The Federal Railroad Administration has approved two applications for Central Ohio to be part of the Corridor Identification and Development (Corridor ID) Program, a comprehensive planning and development program that will help to guide intercity passenger rail development throughout the country and create a pipeline of projects to support future service.  

The last passenger train pulled out of Columbus in 1979. Since then, the region has grown exponentially, adding more than a quarter million residents in the last decade.

“The success of our region is dependent on our next steps in transit. Being able to study passenger rail service both within Ohio and a Midwest connection between Chicago and Pittsburgh through Columbus is a game changer in workforce, housing, sustainability and much more,” said Mayor Andrew J. Ginther. “I am grateful to MORPC and all of our other partners for the proposal to the Federal Rail Administration (FRA), and to the FRA for seeing the value of connectivity in our region.”

To leverage the opportunity of the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, two years ago MORPC and the Columbus Partnership formed a group of public and private sector thought leaders to prepare for the expansion of passenger rail in the region. Significant planning in recent years has well positioned the region for investments in passenger rail. MORPC, the City of Columbus, and others in Ohio and adjacent states, completed the necessary market studies, environmental evaluation, and route analysis to lay the foundation for this effort.

“We are excited by the news of our selection in this critical first step to restore passenger rail back to the Columbus region. For more than a decade, MORPC has been championing this effort,” said MORPC Board Chair Chris Amorose Groomes. “We are extremely grateful to Governor DeWine, along with our esteemed congressional and state representatives, Mayor Ginther, as well as our dedicated business and community leaders, and the ardent support of transit enthusiasts, who rallied behind this transformative regional initiative.”

The Corridor ID process is designed to be deliberate and lead to actionable projects. The process will identify specific needs along the corridors and propose strategies and solutions amenable to bring passenger rail to the region. The Corridor ID Program will allow partners to understand how freight and passenger rail can work together in Ohio. Service development planning will show what improvements need to be made along each corridor in such a way that upgrades will ensure the safety and productivity of all users on the rail network. Better signaling, grade crossings, trackage, bridges, etc., will benefit everyone.

“Central Ohio is fortunate to be a growing metro area, yet we sit in the heart of a state that historically, has been underserved at providing access to passenger rail for everyone in our region,” said MORPC Executive Director William Murdock. “All of that changes today with this first step. These two corridors will support the region’s communities – urban, suburban, and rural – as we address transportation access, sustainability, equity, and economic development needs. There is so much to do to plan for the future prosperity of our region, which now includes passenger rail.”

FRA funding will enable MORPC, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the city of Fort Wayne, IN and other project partners to develop a more comprehensive plan that details what will be needed to enable the corridors to take shape. That includes information on everything from state funding to operating costs and track improvements.

For more information visit MORPC’s website at https://www.morpc.org/corridor-identification-and-development-program/