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More Amtrak Service In Ohio?

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Philly Amtrak Fan

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All Aboard Ohio says Amtrak is actually pushing for it and has proposals in place. The plans were reported in Cincinnati.com.

"
  • Four daily round trips with intermediate station stops between Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago. Currently, there are three one-way trips between Cincinnati and Chicago each week.
  • Three daily round trips with intermediate station stops in Ohio between Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland.
  • Three daily round trips with intermediate station stops between Chicago, Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit.
  • Two daily round trips with intermediate station stops between Cleveland and Buffalo, New York.
  • And, one daily round trip with intermediate station stops between Cleveland and Pittsburgh.
"
The Buffalo and Pittsburgh trains would both head to New York, according to AAO.

 

John Bredin

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Sounds intriguing. Definitely a major test of Amtrak's "get a foot in the door" corridor development plan where a state would have to agree to new service but doesn't pay for it for the first few years.

Officialdom in Mobile, AL is excited to get a corridor under this scheme, for instance, but I don't know where Ohio officials stand. No money upfront means no legislative approval required, as I understand it. But Ohio is where "moderate" Kasich kissed Scott Walker's, umm, pinky ring and threw back hundreds of millions of federal money for 3C service because it came from the Obama DOT.

We don't know how much Congress will fund the corridor development plan. And money for three corridors in one state means that money isn't used for three corridors in three states. On the other hand, the Ohio corridors would fill in a major gap in Midwest train travel. If Amtrak can pull it off this ambitious plan, it would light the way to a whole lot more. At the least, it's heartening to see someone at Amtrak taking to heart Burnham's exhortation to "Make no little plans."
 

PaTrainFan

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That will never pass the solidly Republican legislature. They're more interested in protecting subsidies for the bankrupt nuclear energy industry which resulted in major corruption. And remember the last time, under Kasich, when there was free money from the Federal government to help get it up and running?
 

John Bredin

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Oops, made a slight mistake. Plans for corridor service to Mobile do have support of local officials but are not under the corridor development plan. Amtrak has suggested corridor development plan service connecting Nashville and Atlanta.
 

Dakota 400

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That will never pass the solidly Republican legislature. They're more interested in protecting subsidies for the bankrupt nuclear energy industry which resulted in major corruption.
As an Ohioan who would benefit from such Amtrak service, you are correct if Ohio has to come up with some dollars to start such a service. Not only would our very conservative General Assembly not approve it, but currently, there simply isn't the money in the General Fund to use for such a project. Governor DeWine has had to tap into the State's Rainy Day Fund due to the pandemic. That is likely going to continue for this Fiscal year.
 

John Bobinyec

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Regional service is where Amtrak has stated it wants to expand. And of course if that can be connected to the existing national network, so much the better.

My concern is with regional services in the long distance overnight states such as Ohio. The proposed regional services would very likely be day trips whereas the long distance trains run in the wee hours of the morning.

The proposed regional services would do much better if there were a convenient connection to the long distance trains - both in terms of timing and location. Cincinnati would be okay as far as the station goes. But I'm not sure that Lakefront Station in Cleveland would be sufficient.

jb
 

west point

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If and that is a giant if. If the Ohio plan was instituted as posted here the multi a day operation might just show the national public that more than one trip a day is the way to expand Amtrak. On the other hand if it does not work and just spreads traffic over 3 or 4 trains a day ????

There is still the problem of equipment availability. Be sure if service is started as proposed that every piece of older equipment will be needed. That includes Horizon and Amfleet-1s. Even so short trains might mean constrained capacity which is not good during high travel peaks. That is when the average Joe can get hooked on Amtrak travel at regular times.
 
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jiml

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There is still the problem of equipment availability. Be sure if service is started as proposed that every piece of older equipment will be needed. That includes Horizon and Amfleet-1s. Even so short trains might mean constrained capacity which is not good during high travel peaks. That is when the average Joe can get hooked on Amtrak travel at regular times.
I was thinking the same thing. For every new Midwest coach that arrives, instead of an Amfleet or Horizon being displaced to retirement they will have to be reallocated - even if for a short term while additional cars are ordered. Ideally you'd put the newest cars on the new routes to make an impression, but to do so would not be fair to the existing routes awaiting replacements.
 

PVD

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I know everyone like new equipment, but from a passenger standpoint the refreshed AM-1 is not bad for a shorthaul. Other than the windows being small, and not having curtains, there really isn't anything unpleasant about a corridor trip in one.
 

railiner

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I know everyone like new equipment, but from a passenger standpoint the refreshed AM-1 is not bad for a shorthaul. Other than the windows being small, and not having curtains, there really isn't anything unpleasant about a corridor trip in one.
After riding them and their Metroliner predecessor's since 1969, I find them almost like "home". As soon as I board them, I immediately feel a sense of relaxation...:)
 

bms

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As good as this plan sounds, unfortunately I doubt Ohio will see any new service. The politics in Ohio are getting really old. I'll always keep my condo in Ohio but I'm thinking about working in another state for two or three years to make some real money.
 

MisterUptempo

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I must say I'm surprised that the much talked about Chicago-Columbus route didn't make it onto the list.

The linked story by the OP mentions that the routes were determined in part by "a blueprint the passenger rail company developed in conjunction with state and federal transportation officials " Likely the FRA Midwest Rail Plan? The plan, which was supposed to be complete by the end of 2019, which then slid to the end of 2020, and is still not final, had not made a definitive determination whether a CHI-COL route should go through Ft. Wayne or Indy. Perhaps that's the reason for the snub?

Regarding the CLE-PIT-NYC and the CLE-BUF-NYC routes, would it make more sense to originate those routes at Detroit instead? Easier to justify a dedicated DET-TOL connection if there were more trains running on it, no? Plus, taking Toledo and Detroit along for the ride might translate to more support.

Politically, DeWine is up for re-election in 2022. It would probably take nearly that long to cobble plans together for some of these routes anyway. Political fortunes can change quickly. Look at Georgia.
 

west point

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Uptempo -- Georgia will go back to "R" due several vote suppression bills that will be enacted in the next couple months.
 

CTANut

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What train lines would it be routed over? From Cincinnati to Dayton it appears that it would likely be routed over the old B&O route or the NYC route. I can't think of any intermediate stations.
From Dayton to Columbus the old PRR route seems to be abandoned from Dayton to South Charleston. I would say it would likely travel along the old NYC route from Dayton-Columbus, with an intermediate stop in Springfield. It would likely be routed over the NYC as well all the way to Cleveland.
 

Dakota 400

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the old PRR route seems to be abandoned from Dayton to South Charleston.
I think you are correct. Another factor in establishing rail service in Ohio is the lack of stations. There is none in Columbus or Dayton anymore. In other communities, I don't know, but I doubt that there are any there as well.
 

Just-Thinking-51

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State of Ohio is not much of a supporter of travel by train. I wonder why and who is pushing this plan. I do see a lot of push back from the other states.

I would support this, just not get my hopes up.
 
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These ideas are not new. I suspect AMTRAK is floating them to see if the states will bite. Lobby groups are pushing hard for political support. I guess time will tell.

(edited to add)

I wonder if there is even track capacity to add all these services, especially into and out of Cleveland.
 
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west point

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IMHO the biggest problem for starting any of these services are the stations. Amtrak right now has to settle a bunch of ADA lawsuits at some 70 stations the biggest being Richmond Staples Mill. Getting even a shelter that would be ADA compliant may be difficult?

If all these trains could start say July 2022 essential track work could be completed before hand. After starting service there would need to be times with bus bridges to do longer range track upgrades to reduce total schedule times.
 

John Bredin

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I think you are correct. Another factor in establishing rail service in Ohio is the lack of stations. There is none in Columbus or Dayton anymore. In other communities, I don't know, but I doubt that there are any there as well.
It doesn't look like either city has an old station intact, but it doesn't look like it would be difficult or terribly expensive in either. Roaming around on Google Maps:

*The platforms of the former Dayton station can clearly be seen in satellite mode at 6th & Ludlow, and going past on 6th in streetview [Link] it looks like there's ample space under the tracks to put in a decent station. Not Grand Central Terminal by any means, but space under a rail viaduct can be made decent-looking (see: the French Market at Chicago's Ogilvie Station).

*In Columbus, the tracks go right under the Convention Center, and it looks like there's a nice spot where platforms could be fit in under a connecting part of the Convention Center. From track level. From street level, ideal for taxis. A nearby more pedestrian-friendly entrance. I'd be very surprised if a convention center didn't welcome a train station right on the premises, and there'd be ample amenities (washrooms, restaurants, etc.) already in place. Heck, the adjacent ballroom space is already named "Union Station Ballroom." :)

To the point by west point, the Dayton and Columbus stations I've suggested could each be made accessible with a single elevator to an island platform, which should be sufficient for a through station with the handful of trains each day we're talking about.
 
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CTANut

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It looks like the site in Springfield would be located at grade, along with most of the other stations.
 

CTANut

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It doesn't look like either city has an old station intact, but it doesn't look like it would be difficult or terribly expensive in either. Roaming around on Google Maps:

*The platforms of the former Dayton station can clearly be seen in satellite mode at 6th & Ludlow, and going past on 6th in streetview [Link] it looks like there's ample space under the tracks to put in a decent station. Not Grand Central Terminal by any means, but space under a rail viaduct can be made decent-looking (see: the French Market at Chicago's Ogilvie Station).

*In Columbus, the tracks go right under the Convention Center, and it looks like there's a nice spot where platforms could be fit in under a connecting part of the Convention Center. From track level. From street level, ideal for taxis. A nearby more pedestrian-friendly entrance. I'd be very surprised if a convention center didn't welcome a train station right on the premises, and there'd be ample amenities (washrooms, restaurants, etc.) already in place. Heck, the adjacent ballroom space is already named "Union Station Ballroom." :)

To the point by west point, the Dayton and Columbus stations I've suggested could each be made accessible with a single elevator to an island platform, which should be sufficient for a through station with the handful of trains each day we're talking about.
I think Dayton Union Station was demolished in 1989, and Columbus in the mid 1970s.
 

John Bredin

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Out of curiosity, I found the old 3C plan environmental assessment. Columbus station was to be at the Convention Center :D and Dayton was to be at 6th and Main, one block from my suggestion.

But Cincinnati station wasn't going to be at Union Terminal, it was either going to be at Lunken Airport as the first choice :eek:or alternatively a spot on the riverfront by a boathouse, near-ish downtown but on the wrong side of I-471. The assessment doesn't explain why either CUT or a riverfront station was ruled out over an airport miles from downtown (in an environmental assessment!) but it does include a real doozie about the Lunken Airport site: "This site also provides a location for the development of a station that would be surrounded by compatible light industrial uses." Setting aside the Lunk(en)-headed flaw of missing downtown by miles as your first choice and blocks as your second, how the ever-living 🤬 do you simultaneously think a passenger station should be surrounded by industry rather than near where passengers would actually be going (hotels, offices, stadiums, convention centers, etc.) AND make your next-best choice (over the existing train station) the polar opposite, a park setting in a residential neighborhood?!?
 

Eric S

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I could be completely mistaken but I seem to recall that the stated reason that plans did not use Cincinnati Union Terminal was a desire to avoid rail congestion in and around Queensgate Yard.
 

John Bredin

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I looked at Google Maps and the tracks that serve the "second-best" boathouse location continue along the riverfront into the park lands between downtown Cincinnati and the river. While its not ideal to have active tracks through a park [Link], somebody thought them practical enough for passenger service that the Riverfront Transit Center (built in 2003 before the 2010 assessment for the Ohio 3C plan) was intended to be a commuter rail terminal. The commuter rail plans were still floating around as recently as 2016.

Also, I took a second look at the environmental assessment and:
(1) the line(s) serving CUT were ruled out due to freight congestion (hat-tip to Eric S)
(2) the boathouse location had broad support but intense opposition.
(3) Riverfront Transit Center isn't listed as even a considered alternative for the Cincinnati station.
 
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