Next Steps taken to Continue Evaluation of Columbus-to-Chicago Rail
The Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) along with the City of Columbus and City of Marysville jointly announced today that they will collectively be continuing with the necessary steps to evaluate the feasibility of the Columbus-to-Chicago high speed passenger rail line that was proposed last summer.
“Today’s announcement represents a significant milestone in the planning and evaluation of the proposed rail corridor from Columbus to Chicago, ” said MORPC Executive Director William Murdock. “With the leadership of the cities along the proposed route in Ohio and Indiana, the Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) formalizes already significant collaboration across states to diligently review this new transportation corridor. The MOA is a practical, yet critical next step to pursue the next phase of analyses, the Tier One Environmental Impact Study and the Service Development Plan.”
A group of cities, towns, planning agencies and businesses across both Indiana and Ohio have partnered to fund the study and business plan to build an eleven-city 300-mile link linking Columbus and Chicago. Stops along the way could include Fort Wayne, Marysville, Kenton and Lima.
The next step in the process would be to undertake a Tier one Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), which is required by the Federal Railroad Administration.
“Creating another transportation link from Columbus to Chicago is important for our region’s economic future,” said Columbus Mayor Michael B. Coleman. “Chicago is the largest economic center of the Midwest, and the greater Columbus market, totaling over 1.8 million people, is the largest metropolitan city without high-speed passenger rail service.”
Studies approximate that the high-speed rail line could provide an estimated $6 billion of increased economic output for businesses located within the region.
“This type of long-term planning simply makes good economic sense,” added Marysville Mayor John Gore. “As we strategically plan for future economic development in Marysville and Union County, a high-speed passenger rail service that provides regular service to Port Columbus and to Chicago means ongoing opportunities for existing business growth through retention, expansion and recruitment.”
A feasibility study for the passenger rail corridor was completed in 2013, and proposes a system that would run 12 trains per day, with at least four being express trains with limited stops. Total travel time from Columbus to Chicago would range from 3 hours and 45 minutes (express) to 4 hours (local). Annual ridership is projected at 2.1 million in 2020 and over 3.3 million by 2040. The system could potentially generate an annual positive operation cost ratio estimated at $5 million in 2020, and $64 million in 2040. The business plan indicates that a private operate could manage the system without annual government subsidies.
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