Ohio applies for federal money to study the possibility of expanding passenger rail
The state of Ohio is applying for federal funding to study whether expanding passenger rail makes sense.
"This is the first step of many in this process," says Ohio Governor Mike DeWine. "We have a lot of questions that need to be answered before we make any commitments."
Those questions include:
- What are the infrastructure needs?
- Would it be competitive with car transportation? (taking into account ridership and ticket prices)
There are two corridors under consideration: Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati and Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit.
If Ohio got the grant, the Federal Railroad Administration would provide $500,000 per corridor. That money would be used for a consultant to do a "service development plan." The plan would include information on track improvements, equipment, stations, operating costs, ridership and the required state subsidy needed.
"Under Governor DeWine's direction, we have been talking with Amtrak for quite some time to explore options and gather information," Matthew Dietrich, executive director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission says. "Our work with Amtrak was necessary for a federal application but it is just the first step."
Dietrich adds, "The Governor has been very clear that for this to work for Ohio, it is not just a matter of cost. It has to be done in a way that does not impede freight rail traffic in the state that is so important to our economy and our businesses."
Dietrich is asking for people's patience, saying this is a long process. "You're not going to see trains on the tracks this year or even the year after that. This is going to take a lot of time, a lot of effort and a lot of thought."
Cincinnati City Council is happy Ohio is applying. It ask the Governor to do it in September, as reported by WVXU’s Becca Costello.
Amtrak is set to meet Monday with regional business, government and transportation leaders in Cincinnati.