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Amtrak looks to bring more routes to Cincinnati — but it needs federal and state support first

Proposed connections to Cleveland, Chicago, NYC and other cities
amtrak routes.jpg
Posted at 10:18 PM, Jan 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-02 13:08:53-05

Amtrak is looking to expand passenger rail lines to connect Cincinnati to more cities -- but the plan depends on support from Ohio and the federal government.

A blueprint shared by transportation advocacy group All Aboard Ohio shows proposed routes connecting Cincinnati with Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, Pittsburgh, New York and other cities.

Those proposed routes are:

  • Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati (3C) Corridor: three daily round trips with intermediate station stops.
  • Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Chicago: four daily round trips with intermediate station stops.
  • Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit-Pontiac: three daily round trips with intermediate station stops, including a possible extension of Wolverine Corridor service from Chicago.
  • Cleveland-Buffalo-Albany-New York: two daily round trips with intermediate station stops.
  • Cleveland-Pittsburgh-New York: one daily round trip with intermediate station stops via an extension of Keystone Corridor train service.

According to All Aboard Ohio, the federal passenger rail program depends on the support of Congress, the Biden administration and Ohio officials. Once it has an agreement with a state entity, the company may pay up to 100% of the capital costs to start new or additional services, plus 100% of operating costs in the first two years, 90% in the third year, 80% in the fourth year and 50% in the fifth year.

"It’s time for Ohio — the nation’s most populous state without a passenger rail program — to finally step up," read an alert from All Aboard Ohio. "In the past, Ohio had to pay some if not all of the capital costs of starting up new passenger rail services and purchasing continued services on an annual or bi-annual basis. Yes, there was a risk of failure in that. But the pursuit of success always carries a risk of failure.

"If Congress and the Biden Administration approve this rail corridor development program, as they are expected to do, Ohio simply isn’t going to get a better deal than this."

ODOT's biennial budget is up for approval from the General Assembly in spring.