Ohio Wants to Study Passenger Rail Between Major Cities

(The Center Square) – Ohio wants to begin studying expanding passenger rail service in the state connecting the state’s largest cities.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission announced Wednesday that Gov. Mike DeWine directed it to apply for the first phase of funding to study the possible expansion. The Federal Railroad Administration’s Corridor Identification and Development program would help the state in assessing potential intercity passenger rail corridors, the commission said in a news release.

“This is the first step of many in this process. We have a lot of questions that need to be answered before we make any commitments,” DeWine said. “The information we gather from this effort will help us make informed decisions about federal opportunities for passenger rail in Ohio.”

The state picked out two corridors to study. The first would connect Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. The second looks at Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit.

If the state’s application is granted, the federal government would provide $500,000 for each corridor. Ohio plans to use the funds to prepare work for a service development plan that would include information about track improvements, equipment, stations, operating costs, ridership and state money that would be needed to start the service.

“Under Governor DeWine’s direction, we have been talking with Amtrak for quite some time to explore options and gather information,” said Matthew Dietrich, executive director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission. “Our work with Amtrak was necessary for a federal application but it is just the first step. 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.”

The project is part of the Corridor ID Program that expects to guide intercity passenger rail development throughout the country and development a pipeline of ready projects.

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