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Cincy Streetcar progress tour Aug 24

All Aboard Ohio invites you to join with us, Cincinnati Metro RTA and Cincinnatians For Progress in offering a free walking tour of construction progress on the Cincinnati Streetcar project. The tour for the public will start at 10 a.m. Sunday August 24 at the Gazebo in the center of Washington Park. Numerous Metro bus routes are within walking distance and parking is under the park which is bounded by Elm, Race, 12th and 14th streets.

Experts Paul Grether of Cincinnati Metro and John Schneider of Cincinnatians For Progress will lead the tour of the Over-The-Rhine loop of the Cincinnati Streetcar route. During the tour we’ll learn a lot about the technical aspects of the rail construction, streetcar vehicles as well as the development occurring along the route. If you are not a member of All Aboard Ohio you are in luck! Southwest Ohio Director Derek Bauman will accept your $5 membership fee on the spot and you’re good to go!

For more information, contact SW Ohio Director Derek Bauman at (513) 262-0345.

Ohio-Indiana mayors, MORPC to jointly seek Columbus-Chicago rail

Columbus-Chicago map1

Mayors in nine cities in Ohio and Indiana, along with the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC), announced Aug. 6 that they will sign a memorandum of agreement (MOA) within the week calling for cooperation in development of a Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus passenger rail corridor.

The Ohio cities represented are Columbus, Marysville, Kenton and Lima. The Indiana cities include Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso and Gary.

  • For the MORPC press release and quotes from Ohio leaders, see HERE.
  • For news coverage from Ohio with more quotes on the MOA, see HERE.
  • For news coverage from Indiana, see HERE.

The MOA calls for the parties “…to systematically and incrementally develop the higher speed rail (“HSR”) intercity system in cooperation with existing freight rail operators and owners of right‐of–way along a corridor from Chicago to Columbus through northern Indiana hereafter known as the Northern Indiana/Ohio High Speed Rail Initiative.”

Specifically, the MOA resolves that the parties will work together to secure funding for the federally required Environmental Impact Study (EIS), the next step in developing the 300-mile passenger rail line. The EIS would examine the preliminary engineering, technical analysis, service planning and environmental impacts along several different routes in order to determine the preferred route for locating the rail lines. Once complete, the EIS would be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration. This study could begin in late 2014 and would take 18 months to complete.

“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.”

“Support for passenger rail is strong in Lima and the Greater Lima area,” said Lima Mayor David Berger. “We have a large base of potential passengers among our business people, students and everyday citizens who want and need an alternative option to driving to Chicago or Columbus. Having access to fast, frequent trains also would send a strong message to investors and others who are looking for development opportunities in Lima, as well as assist our existing businesses in recruiting new talent.”

“Passenger rail will have a high impact on our region,” says Ohio Northern University President Daniel DiBiasio. “It would significantly improve access for residents of Lima and Northwest Ohio to Columbus and Chicago. By broadening travel options for students, we can dramatically enhance their ability to benefit from the incredible opportunities these great cities provide, including commuting to internship sites and back home during breaks. Faculty, who now drive to campus from Columbus, would have a faster, safer, more eco-friendly commute. In fact, passenger rail will enhance faculty and student recruitment, making Ada, Ohio much more accessible.”

“This is a big step forward in the effort to bring passenger rail back to our community,” said Ft. Wayne Mayor Tom Henry. “The Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus corridor will be good for citizens throughout northern Indiana and central Ohio. It will increase transportation alternatives and help boost economic development and tourism.”

According to a 2013 feasibility study by Transportation Economics Management Systems, the proposed service of 12 trains a day with at least 4 express trains would:

  • Directly connect the Greater Columbus market, totaling over 1.8 million people, with the largest center of commerce in the Midwest: Chicago;
  • Provide the same fast, frequent connections and benefits to Ohio cities like Marysville, Kenton and Lima;
  • Feature Chicago to Columbus travel times ranging from 3 hours and 45 minutes express service to 4 hours local service;
  • Attract an estimated 2.1 million riders in 2020 and will increase to over 3.3 million riders by 2040;
  • Generate a positive operating cost ratio of an estimated $5 million once the system ramps up in 2020 and rise to $64 million by 2040, operated by a private franchise operator. The business plan indicates that private operation of the system would be possible without annual government subsidies;
  • Generate an estimated 12,000 temporary jobs during construction and 26,800 permanent jobs over the 30-year project; and
  • Provide an estimated $6 billion of increased output for the region’s businesses.

The study was completed in 2013 by Transportation Economics & Management Systems, Inc. (TEMS) for the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.

For more information, contact All Aboard Ohio at info@allaboardohio.org or call toll-free at 844-GO4-RAIL (844-464-7245).

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Summer Meeting & Family Outing on Cincinnati Dinner Train Aug. 23!

Join us Aug. 23 at 5 p.m. for a ride on the Cincinnati Dinner Train, boarding at  the BBQ Revue, 4725 Madison Road [MAP] in Madisonville, northeast side of Cincinnati. Exit I-71 onto Red Bank Road (Exit 9), go south to Madison Road and turn right. BBQ Revue is less then 1 mile west, on the left.

Cost is $45 per person for the meeting, train ride, dinner and beverages. The first 30 registrants will ride the dinner train’s newly acquired Moonlight Dome car. Additional coach seats are available in the rest of the train.

Yes, I would like to register today!

An All Aboard Ohio Board Meeting will be held at 4 p.m. at the BBQ Revue. You are welcome to attend and observe. Board the train starting at 5 p.m. You must be on board by 5:30 p.m. There will be a brief association report in the Moonlight Dome car prior to the 6 p.m. departure. Food will be served on the lower level of the dome car. Dinner includes:

Pulled pork
Pulled chicken
Mac and cheese
Cole slaw
Water
Tea

All Aboard Ohio has a group rate available for booking HERE at the Hampton Inn & Suites-Cincinnati Uptown, 3024 Vine Street. If you would like a tour of the Cincinnati Streetcar construction progress on Sunday morning Aug. 24 at 10 a.m. hosted by Cincinnatians For Progress, please RSVP to Derek Bauman at (513) 262-0345 or email him at derekbauman@gmail.com. This is for the streetcar tour only!

Cincinnati Dinner Train1

All Aboard Ohio members will be the first customers of the Cincinnati Dinner Train to ride in the Moonlight Dome. Here is the car’s heritage:

The Moonlight Dome was part of a C&O stillborn train called the “Chessie” which was to run between Cincinnati and New York. This new train was conceived in 1946 with the cars being built by the Budd company in 1948. By 1949 plans within the C&O had changed and the “Chessie” train concept was abandoned. There had been six “stradodomes” built for the C&O, three end of train observation dome coaches and three mid train dome sleepers. These domes were specially built so as to be able to go into Washington D.C. through the tunnel. They were several inches lower than the standard vista domes used by Northern Pacific and other rail lines.

The three mid-train dome sleepers were sold to the B&O in 1949 and re-named the “Moonlight Dome”, “Starlight Dome” and “Sunlight Dome”. Each had three staterooms, one crew bedroom under the dome and five roomettes in the A end of the car. Moonlight Dome served on the Lakeshore Limited and the Shenandoah line throughout its career. Once in private hands, the crew lounge/work area under the dome was converted to a kitchen and the five roomettes were removed so as to allow for a lower lounge.

Moonlight Dome is the only Amtrak-compliant stratodome on the rails. A few of the other stradodomes are still in existence but in need of total overhaul. After being sold by Amtrak in the early 1980s, Moonlight Dome has been through four owners. In January 2014, Brian Collins and Harry Davis, who also own the private car Birch Grove, purchased Moonlight Dome. Extensive underbody work to the trucks was done in July of 2014 and massive interior improvements are planned throughout 2014 and 2015.

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Indiana replaces Amtrak as ‘Hoosier State’ service provider

All Aboard Ohio will learn from Corridor Capital what impact this may have on the proposed extension to Cincinnati. Stay tuned.

Trains News Wire EXCLUSIVE:
Indiana replaces Amtrak as ‘Hoosier State’ service provider
By Bob Johnston
Published: June 27, 2014

INDIANAPOLIS — Although Amtrak conductors and engineers will continue to operate Indiana’s Hoosier State, the Indiana Department of Transportation has selected Corridor Capital LLC of Chicago to provide the equipment and maintenance, effective Oct. 1, 2014, for its state-supported train. Before any contract is signed and agreement details are finalized, however, officials from on line communities which agreed to help keep the train operating through Sept. 30, 2014, must approve the new service plan and funding they will be required to pay beginning Oct. 1. The operation agreement would include the four weekly round-trips over the Chicago-Indianapolis when the Chicago-Washington-New York Cardinal does not run.

Indiana thus becomes the first state seeking to “unbundle” service currently provided by Amtrak under Section 209 of the  Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act of 2008. That legislation mandates that states assume financial responsibility for any Amtrak train operating less than 750 miles. The legislation requires Amtrak to itemize costs it is passing on to states or operating authorities so whatever it charges can be competitively bid on by other entities. The document released by INDOT this week reveals that Corridor Capital narrowly edged Iowa Pacific Holdings in judging criteria scored by the agency’s Selection Review Committee. Herzog Transit Services and Travel Train Holdings Inc. also submitted proposals.

Department spokesman Will Wingfield tells Trains News Wire that Corridor Capital was essentially tapped as a consultant to help define the scope of alternatives for service that the state and Indiana communities will ultimately decide upon. “Leaders from the towns of Beech Grove, Indianapolis, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County, and Rensselaer are being invited to help evaluate the options and costs that will determine how much support the train will need during the next fiscal year,” he says. Ticket pricing, possible café car service, and business class amenities are all on the table.

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