Friday, March 7, 2008

Rail Plan Being Sought by Governor Strickland

Incredible news regarding our governor and real, positive change for Ohio transit! It's not bike-related, directly, but based on what I was told by Don Damron of All Aboard Ohio about the trains having bike racks and the like on board, this becomes bike related! Think about riding your bike to the train station, hopping on, enjoying a ride to Cleveland or Cincinnati, and hopping off with your bike and being on the go immediately!

I'm excited... you can probably tell by all the exclamation points.
Contact information:
Andrew Bremer, Executive Director
Andrew@allaboardohio.org
w: 614-228-6005
c: 614-657-4184

March 7, 2008
Columbus, Ohio

ALL ABOARD OHIO APPLAUDS GOVERNOR STRICKLAND AND ORDC

Options for Cleveland - Columbus - Cincinnati Service Sought (Columbus, OH)

All Aboard Ohio is grateful to Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland for asking Amtrak to investigate the potential ridership and costs of starting fast, convenient and modern passenger rail service in Ohio's busiest and most populous travel corridor. Starting passenger train services on existing, high-quality freight railroad tracks linking Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati means that congested freight infrastructure "choke points" will need to be addressed.

The ultimate goal of this effort is for Ohio to encourage and accommodate more economic growth in an energy efficient, environmentally friendly manner. Train stations will be located in walkable town centers and serve as magnets for private investment and local transportation.

With fuel prices at record highs, rail traffic is also at or near record highs. Amtrak in 2007 carried more travelers than in any single year in its 36-year history. U.S. freight railroads carried more carloads of traffic in 2006 than at any time in the industry's 170-year history; 2007 was their second-busiest year.

"Travelers and shippers who are mindful of their finances are increasingly turning to railroads for their transportation needs," said All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Andrew Bremer. "If Ohio wants to compete for residents and businesses, Ohio needs to ensure that this mode of transportation is available to its citizens, visitors and shippers, too."

Fourteen states already have partnerships with Amtrak to provide passenger train services and to improve and modernize rail infrastructure in those states. As the seventh-most populous state in the nation, Ohio is also the most populous state which does not yet have a service partnership with Amtrak. Columbus is the most populous metro area in the nation without any regularly scheduled passenger trains. The Greater Dayton-Springfield area is in America's top-10 largest population centers with no passenger trains. Cincinnati has Amtrak trains only three days a week, all in the middle of the night. Cleveland and Toledo have slightly better passenger train services.

In addition to downtown stations in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati, other potential stations could be located at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Galion, Delaware, Columbus-Crosswoods, Springfield, Middletown and Sharonville. The Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati (3-C) Corridor, which is wholly within Ohio, is being targeted by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) as part of its comprehensive Ohio Hub System rail plan. Other Ohio Hub routes are interstate, such as Cleveland - Youngstown - Pittsburgh and Cleveland - Toledo - Detroit, and are being sought jointly by ORDC, regional and state transportation agencies and federal officials.

"I applaud Gov. Strickland for taking this first step and showing leadership in recognizing the potential of rail development in Ohio," Bremer added. "Many other states have already seen remarkable benefits from the implementation of passenger rail services with Amtrak from Maine all the way to California.”

More than 50 million people travel in Ohio's 3-C Corridor each year, mostly by car. The Ohio Department of Transportation spends more than 98 percent of its annual $3.8 billion budget on highways. Options to driving are either inconvenient, expensive or both. A round-trip flight between Cleveland and Columbus, with a two-week advance purchase, costs more than $600. For bus travel, Greyhound's nationwide service cuts have left many Ohio cities with fewer or no buses. For example, it is impossible to arrive in Cleveland or Columbus by Greyhound bus before 10 a.m. (when many business meetings start) if someone departs from either city after 4:30 a.m.

"On the train, business travelers, college students, seniors, tourists and others can work, sleep, socialize, read, watch a DVD or enjoy a snack and beverage while traveling affordably, comfortably and rapidly," Bremer said. "This isn't an amenity when Ohio's competition is already offering it. Passenger rail is an essential service for improving the quality of life and economic future for Ohioans."

A 2001 survey by the Ohio State University showed 74 percent of Ohioans believed that improved passenger train services would improve their quality of life, and 80 percent of Ohioans want the state to develop passenger train services.

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All Aboard Ohio! is a state-wide non-profit organization based in Columbus, Ohio, advocating for improved public transit and the development of the Ohio Hub Plan. More information can be found at www.allaboardohio.org.
People, not speed.

5 comments:

  1. I saw this and jumped for joy. Obviously, I live in Columbus. I have family in both the Cleveland area and the Toledo area. There have been many canceled trips because of the price of gas. Personally, I cannot stand driving for 2 1/2 hours.

    If the Ohio Hub becomes a reality, I could hop the train in Columbus, then be within 10 miles of my destination at either place.

    Does anyone have any plans where the train station would be in Columbus?

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  2. Good point, especially considering our former train station is now gone.

    It makes sense to me to add a couple or three more routes - one to Detroit, one to Indianapolis, and one to Pittsburgh. That'd cover all the routes to major cities nearby, and from there you could also catch trains to Chicago, the East, etc. pretty easily.

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  3. It looked like the article showed Columbus-Crosswoods - 270@23?

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  4. Yeah... Downtown Columbus and Crosswoods. There is that stretch of track that runs under Campus View just past the Crosswoods area, isn't there? And there's plenty of space to develop up there.

    And a stop up in Delaware, too.

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  5. Passenger rail systems are grossly uneconomic. A freight train from Cleveland to Cincinatti gets 790 mpg per ton, but the freight cars can carry 115 tons each. With 100 cars this is 11,500 tons per train. Passenger cars carry but 40 passengers per car per trip, in peak hours, which is about 5 tons per passenger car. Since passenger trains are selsdom over five cars long, we can carry only 25 tons of passengers in a block of rail corridor that can carry 11,500 tons. In other words, each passenger must yield as much revenue as 460 tons of cargo, plus costs of cleaning the train cars, and hiring conductors and the like. According to statistics I have seen, buses are cheaper, school buses being the cheapest way to move people. However, driving a car is much cheaper than a train. Also, bear in mind that three billion dollar stations will be built in Cleveland, Columbus, Cincy, and several hundred million dollar stations in Medina, Ashland, Mansfield, Mt. Gilead, Springfield, Dayton, and the like. To run one train in each direction once every twenty minutes will take a minimum of 24 locomotives and 120 passenger cars. Given that city buses run $400,000 each, and that train cars run several times that figure, we are talking of at least ten billion dollars for up front costs here, with a 3 to 5 billion dollar a year cost. The train cars and locomotives will be replaced every twenty years, and the railbed must be rebuilt every 30 years. The Cleveland RTA trains now run with an average of 7 people per car per mile. In actual use they run empty a lot, and are filled only in rush hour. Further, a new type of business mini-jet category is emerging in which the companies owning them will be able to charge fares, and use smaller airports near downtown areas such as Burke Lakefront in Cleveland, and Medina's Liberty Field. Most executives I know will not use the CCC train, because of the time costs, nor would they permit their employees to do so on business trips. Finally, Ohio is losing large corporations and future CEOs--the people who supposedly will ride this thing and pay for it--will want to use the Internet, not travel.

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