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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Ohio receives $400M for high-speed rail

The winners have been chosen, and Ohio's efforts to land money for rail service along the Cincinnati-Columbus-Cleveland (3-C) Corridor have been successful. Today it has been announced that Ohio will receive $400 million for track upgrades, grade crossings, new stations, and maintenance facilities.

Meanwhile the larger Midwest region pulled in a collective $2.6 billion which was second only to the West Coast region which nabbed an impressive $2.942 billion of the total $8 billion available. Secretary of Transportation, Ray LaHood, views this as an investment that will make passenger rail more efficient while also providing better service in travel markets across the nation.

  • High-speed rail travel offers competitive door-to-door trip times
  • It reduces congestion on key routes between cities
  • It reduces transportation emissions
  • And, most of all, it creates the jobs of the future, the jobs America needs right now

For Cincinnati there are still questions though about a station location. The $400 million is a significant investment, but will still not enough to cover the $517.6 million needed to extend the line through one of the nation's most heavily congested rail yards to Union Terminal. Additional track to run the line all the way to Lunken Airport might also prove be to costly according to project officials.

Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio, responded to those questions by saying, "The state could trim costs by using rebuilt, rather than new, passenger cars and by ending the route in Sharonville rather than at Lunken Field, and when there is enough money run trains to Union Terminal."

The 250-mile 3-C Corridor has long been seen as one of the nation's most promising rail corridors with projections estimating that 478,000 passengers will use the rail service annually. The new service will operate three daily round trips with top speeds of 79mph and serve a population of more than 6.8 million people, close to 40 colleges and universities, and 22 Fortune 500 companies.


Sam Goater said...

79mph? Is that really considered 'High speed?' Seems pretty lame to me. We should aim higher.

Katie said...

Really, they're thinking of ending it in Sharonville? What exactly was the point of Issue 9?

One quick typo. Lunken Airport has an 'n' in it.

5chw4r7z said...

The steam locamotive pushing the Delorean had to get it up to 88mph so it could time travel.
To a future where our highspeed rail goes 79mph.

I'm worried no one will ride the train and it, along with true highspeed service will die.

Quimbob said...

Was reading elsewhere that the trains will only achieve 39 MPH - well within walking speed.
As we all gradually evolve into supermen, is there any need for mass transit of any form?

Ben said...

Quite honestly I'm pretty disappointed in the preliminary talk of keeping the 3C corridor out of Cincinnati. A bit of a kick in the groin to people who have supported this project.

Nathan said...

Re: Station

Lunken?! Why waste the money that should go to Union Terminal. What a great place to welcome people to Cincinnati! And better location...And stopping at Sharonville?! Also ridiculous! If we're doing this, let's do it right.

Nathan said...

Re: Speed

If they're smart, they'll think about running express trains and regular trains (as in Europe). Express trains could be non-stop Cinti-Col-Cleve, alternating with trains that make stops at all stations on the route. Would help cut travel time...

Quimbob said...

^I have heard this suggested & think it is a great & logical idea. Just need to make sure the "comprehensive" trip is not in the middle of the night or anything crazy like that.

Nate said...

The reason for having the station at lunken is that there are not enough passenger car tracks coming into Union Terminal. Before the obvious is stated that there are dozens of tracks along Mill Creek, it has to be noted that most of those are controlled by CSX and or some storage for the barge/coal business in Queensgate.
There was an article during the summer about how a fourth right of way for an incomming track into the valley would be studied but could not be studied if issue 9 had passed.
The Lunken option provides more immediate access as less community/business wrangling would have to take place, though the Lunken intial station HAS NOT BEEN DETERMINED TO BE THE PERMANENT STATION.
UNION TERMINAL IS STILL WHERE MANY ADVOCATES SEE THE STATION BEING AFTER THE FOURTH INCOMMING TRACK WOULD BE COMPLETE. It does seem like a waste of money to build in Lunken first, then move but it is a timing issue- which could be resolved with extended public outcry...
On that note it is important that the Cincinnati Metro Region get more involved in the 3C discussion. We are the most populous MR on the line and will have a direct link on the National plan to Chicago. We must mobilize behind a station, and behind our city and FAST. Furthermore we need to change the 3C plan in our favor: as the most populace Metro Region on the line and with existing (slow) connections to Washington DC... IT MAKES NO SENSE FOR THE 3C PLAN TO HAVE A MASSIVE HUB IN COLUMBUS WITH PLANS TO CONNECT THROUGH HARRISBURG IN PA.
We have to be loud and decisive, we want rail done right.

please see national rail plans @
and 3C @

Nathan said...

No one will ever convince me that blowing thousands or even millions at Lunken is a good idea. If Union Terminal is going to be the permament station -- and it should be -- spending money anywhere but there makes zero sense. If they need more tracks or need to work things out with CSX or Amtrak then they should get on it.

On the other hand, I don't know much about Columbus hub vs. Cinti hub; could you explain more why Cinti is the better option? Is it because of existing lines?

Nate said...

1) The city could do nothing until it was sure Issue 9 failed otherwise the procedure on the right of way would have to go to vote.

2) Moving on to Columbus vs. Cincy
-Existing Infrastructure (including Union Terminal)
-Larger Metropolitan Region
-Direct Connection to Chicago (where most rail money will be spent please reference the above graphic 700mil Madison to Chicago? really? but that is that fact)
-The DC to Chicago Connection (Since the money for rail is being pushed by the executive funding for a 3C hub in Cincy would come easier as a link between DC and Chicago if the current planned Chi/Indy/Cincy line goes ahead and if the southern existing Cincy to DC line is used providing a direct DC to Chicago Link.
-As mentioned there is an improvable existing connection to the Eastern Seaboard line (Amtrack's Accela) which would provide a valuable and necessary link between the regional rail alternatives.
- In the 2010 Census the Cincy Metro Region Population will be calculated to include the population of Dayton. This means we will be much larger and carry more constituents to national competitions for future money allocation.

**This is a money and population issue at heart by Geographic logic (Cincy is in favorable for being inte direct line of Nashville/Louisville/Toledo/Detroit and St. Louis/Huntington & Charleston/Washington DC) The previously stated inter-regional line connections would be geographically easier through Cincy, serve more populated lines then Indy/Columbus/Pittsburgh/Philly and provide possibilities for federal spending on 200mph train lines due to less stops (between cities)
Back to population. The legislators in Columbus do not realize 3C was and still is part of larger plans ( for a national network. Ohio will get more money, and Cincy will get better rail if we start thinking more nationally then by state. As many people find the HSR speeds of 80 to 110 mph to be undesirable a specific government sponsored project to connect more distant cities at higher rates of travel may well be on the National Agenda in the next 3 years. California will be competing as will the East Coast, but we have a great opportunity to take advantage of Obama's Chicago Connections and legislator's DC ties to put a Cincy plan in action.
It is on us to show them the logic, and to prove that it will be used. That is why we need to be more proactive, this is most I have heard from regular Cincinnatians since November, and it is all complaints. We need to be proactive and keep the conversation going.

Nathan said...

Will any modifications need to be made -- to operations or facilities -- at Union Terminal to better accommodate the increased traffic from cities other than Columbus, should Cinti become a hub? Is there a way we can push for these changes -- in addition to Union Terminal being THE main station -- to happen more quickly, so as to possibly influence the decision of where the hub will be by demonstrating our city's commitment?

Randy Simes said...


In order to get trains to Cincinnati Union Terminal there will need to be an investment of somewhere between $70-80M. The need to add an additional rail line coming in to the Queensgate Railyard due to the congested freight traffic there. They also need to add 2 additional hold over areas for trains as they wait for their departures. Inside CUT itself, there are already efforts underway to upgrade the facility to be able to operate as a larger passenger rail terminal.

It seems like CUT is the selected spot for Cincinnati's main station, but since Ohio got $117M less than what they asked for it makes a large gap to fill. The best thing you could do at this point is to contact your state representatives and let them know how important this is to you, and urge them to support the 3-C Corridor and a station at CUT in the immediate future.

Nathan said...

This is good information. I really appreciate the responses to my posts.

As far as lobbying the Ohio General Assembly: I could certainly call/email, but is there any organized effort to do so? Is any group actively lobbying on behalf of CUT and additional funds and Cinti as a hub?

With that in mind, when are decisions likely to be made in Columbus on funding for high-speed rail? Is there more legislation in the works that would provide it? Does Cinti and CUT have a place in that plan?

Randy Simes said...


I am not aware of any specific group that has organized to lobby on behalf of CUT or additional funds for Cincinnati in terms of HSR.

Additional funds could come through additional appropriations or bills depending on the political process, but I would guess that the $1.5B needed to make the entire Ohio Hub plan 110mph will have to go to some state-wide vote at some point as that money will more than likely have to be raised in house...but you never know.

The best way for you to stay involved with an organization is through the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC).

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