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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.


Be a transit planner for a day – design your own transit system

AAO NOTE: the ODOT survey is urban bus/rural transit-biased with ZERO rail options mentioned. There is an open-ended question at the end of the survey where persons can indicate anything else they want to weight in on — including offering rail-related ideas and suggestions.

Ohio Department of Transportation • News Release

Division of Communications
1980 West Broad Street • Columbus, Ohio 43223

COLUMBUS – The Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) is asking Ohio residents to design the transit system that they would like to ride. 

ODOT has designed an interactive tool and survey that lets users decide what the priorities should be – and matches those with the dollars it takes to deliver them. The survey also illustrates the community benefits based on how funds are spent, helping users understand the trade-offs that decision-makers must face as they invest in our transit systems.

For example, residents of urban areas like Akron or Toledo may want more bus service, running more often, on more days. Those who live in rural areas like Athens or Holmes counties may want van service that takes them to medical appointments or shopping locations. All across Ohio, residents may be thinking of new types of vehicles, services, and technology, which the survey will also help measure.

Ohioans are encouraged to use the interactive tool and take the online survey by June 30.

The interactive tool is located here: http://www.ohiotransitsurvey.com/. Click “Proceed to Next Page” to be guided to the corresponding Ohio Transit Survey. (Google Chrome users may need to use only “ohiotransitsurvey.com” to access the page.)

The survey findings will assist ODOT’s evaluation of how transit needs and preferences vary by audience, region and experience. This feedback, along with other analyses of Ohio’s unique transit needs and the nation’s best practices, will shape recommendations produced by the ODOT Statewide Transit Needs Study, expected by the end of this year.

For more information on the ODOT study, visit www.TransitNeedsStudy.ohio.gov.


For more information, contact: Steve Faulkner, ODOT Press Secretary, at 614-644-7101, steve.faulkner@dot.state.oh.us.

Association begins Cincinnati-Chicago passenger rail campaign

Potential options for extending the existing Chicago-Indianapolis "Hoosier State" train service to Cincinnati -- a first step to faster, more frequent rail service between Cincinnati-Chicago. [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

Potential options for extending the existing Chicago-Indianapolis “Hoosier State” train service to Cincinnati — a first step to faster, more frequent rail service between Cincinnati-Chicago. [CLICK IMAGE TO ENLARGE]

Following the election of Derek Bauman (E-mail or 513-262-0345) to the All Aboard Ohio board as Southwest Regional Director, the nonprofit educational association commenced a campaign to educate stakeholders on the benefits of improving rail infrastructure and passenger rail services between Cincinnati, Indianapolis, Lafayette and Chicago with proposed Ohio stops at Cincinnati Union Terminal, I-275 park-n-ride, Hamilton and Oxford. Mr. Bauman is co-chair of Cincinnatians for Progress which has been a strong backer of local public transit, including the streetcar in Cincinnati.

“All Aboard Ohio is happy to have Mr. Bauman on board to help move our Cincinnati-Chicago campaign forward,” said Ken Prendergast, Executive Director of All Aboard Ohio. “His interest and experience in economic development and transportation made him a natural to help lead this campaign in Southwest Ohio to improve train services to Chicago from the current Amtrak service which is slow, nocturnal and runs only thrice weekly. Car, bus and plane travel may never offer faster or less expensive service than what they offer now, while passenger rail service is only getting faster, more convenient, and cost-effective between many Midwestern cities like Chicago, St. Louis, Detroit and Milwaukee. Cincinnati needs to be part of this progress to remain economically competitive.”

Some parts of Ohio aren’t being left out. Development projects are emerging for new passenger rail service between Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne-Chicago and faster, improved rail services linking Cleveland-Toledo-Chicago.

“I am honored and excited to be elected the Southwest Ohio Director for All Aboard Ohio at this crucial time for rail transit in our state,” Mr. Bauman said. “Across the country we see rail ridership reaching record numbers, vehicle miles-traveled dropping and a desire from everyone from Millennials to Empty-Nesters to be able to connect and travel via transit. I look forward to joining elected officials, business leaders and citizens groups across Ohio in implementing and expanding sensible rail transportation projects which will drive economic development, job creation, and a reduced reliance on an overburdened roadway system and fossil fuels.”

All Aboard Ohio’s long-term goal is to achieve 4-8 daily trains in each direction between Chicago and Cincinnati cruising at 110 mph speeds and offering a travel time of four hours from downtown Cincinnati and downtown Chicago. This is competitive with air travel, especially when a suburban park-n-ride station is offered in the vicinity of I-275. Since a long journey starts with a first step, All Aboard Ohio believes the following should be first step for Cincinnati-Chicago:

  • Extend the existing Chicago-Indianapolis “Hoosier State” train service to Cincinnati to provide daytime service over this route with Ohio station stops at Cincinnati Union Terminal, I-275 park-n-ride, Hamilton and Oxford;
  • Increase from thrice-weekly to daily the Amtrak “Cardinal” (Chicago-Cincinnati-Washington-New York City) to improve its operating performance by 31%;
  • Reduce passenger travel times between Cincinnati and Chicago by up to 2 hours, including enhanced grade crossing safety between Hamilton-Indianapolis.
  • Make rail traffic capacity improvements in Cincinnati’s Mill Creek valley to improve traffic flow for more than 100 freight trains or 30,000 truckload equivalents per day.
  • Projected capital costs for this Phase 1 service improvement are estimated at $40 million.

Over the long term,  the goal is to provide frequent passenger rail service at 110 mph between Cincinnati-Chicago. The Midwest Regional Rail Initiative (MWRRI) is moving forward in many other states, boosted by studies that show fast passenger trains in the Midwest (an economic powerhouse that would rank it as the 7th-most productive nation in the world) are producing significant ridership, revenues and economic benefits for communities and businesses in Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and other states. All Aboard Ohio urges communities along the Cincinnati-Chicago route to come together to update MWRRI studies and formulate a business plan for developing this rail corridor.

The Cincinnati-Chicago travel corridor has a population of more than 15 million residents within 20 miles of the existing passenger train tracks. There are also many Fortune 500 corporations and dozens of universities and colleges. Plus, there are several commercial airports within a mile of the tracks where intermodal stations can be built and connected to air terminals via shuttle bus, people mover or even a moving walkway. Studies would identify major ridership sources, potential routing alternatives, passenger schedules, service amenities and capital investments necessary to maximize benefits for existing and future freight customers.

Lastly, All Aboard Ohio’s campaign includes a special promotion of a $5 membership fee for new members. Benefits include receiving a newspaper-format version of our quarterly Ohio Passenger Rail News, e-mails as-needed regarding important news and events, and your support will help the continuance of our informative Twitter and Facebook pages.

$5 per person to join All Aboard Ohio

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New All Aboard Ohio board members, officers named

Outgoing All Aboard Ohio Chairman Ronald C. Sheck Ph.D., at left, accepts a plaque of appreciation on behalf of the board from Executive Director Ken Prendergast at the association's Annual Meeting held May 17, 2014 in Gahanna, OH.

Outgoing All Aboard Ohio Chairman Ronald C. Sheck Ph.D., at left, accepts a plaque of appreciation on behalf of the Board of Directors from Executive Director Ken Prendergast at the association’s Annual Meeting held May 17, 2014 in Gahanna, OH.

At the May 17 All Aboard Ohio Annual Meeting in Gahanna, OH, 15 people were elected or appointed to two-year terms on the association’s Board of Directors. From the elected directors, the board chose a new Chairman in Jack Shaner, a new Secretary in Charles Horn and returned  Ken Sislak as Vice-Chairman and Ken Clifford as Treasurer.

All Aboard Ohio members and friends thank Ronald C. Sheck Pd.D. for his leadership, guidance and service as Chairman in the last two years. The board includes several new directors: Eric Childress, Tim Porter, Marvin Randaldson and Akshai Singh. All Aboard Ohio thanks Mark Carlson (he will remain as newsletter production coordinator), Eric Davies and Richard Straub for their volunteer service to the board. Here is the current board:

  • CHAIRMAN: Jack Shaner, Ohio Environmental Council, Columbus, OH
  • VICE CHAIRMAN: Kenneth Sislak, AECOM, Shaker Heights, OH
  • SECRETARY: Charles Horn, citizen, Kenton, OH
  • TREASURER: Kenneth Clifford, CPA, Medway, OH
  • NORTHEAST REGION: Ken Sislak (see officers, above)
  • NORTHWEST REGION: Roger Shope, OHERN, Bowling Green, OH
  • SOUTHWEST REGION: Derek Bauman, Cincinnatians For Progress, Cincinnati, OH
  • CENTRAL/SE REGION: Eric Childress, citizen, Columbus, OH
  • AT-LARGE: Theresa Allen, Blanchard River Watershed Partnership, Forest, OH
  • AT-LARGE: David Burns, Motoman Inc.,  West Milton, OH
  • AT-LARGE: Kenneth Clifford (see officers, above)
  • AT-LARGE: Michael J. Connor, railroad consultant, Dover, OH
  • AT-LARGE: Charles Horn (see officers, above)
  • AT-LARGE: Timothy Porter, NOPRA, Toledo, OH
  • AT-LARGE: Marvin Randaldson, Bike Cleveland, Lakewood, OH
  • AT-LARGE: Jack Shaner (see officers, above)
  • AT-LARGE: Ronald Sheck, retired transportation administrator/educator, Sylvania
  • AT-LARGE: Akshai Singh, Sierra Club, Cleveland Heights, OH
  • AT-LARGE: Jerry Wicks, OHERN, Bowling Green, OH

Also at the Annual Meeting, the board approved a temporary, promotional 1-year membership rate for new members of $5 per person which will be in effect until Aug. 31. Depending on how many people respond to this new-member dues rate, the board may consider extending the promotion or possibly making it permanent.

$5 per person to join All Aboard Ohio

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Executive Director Ken Prendergast gave a presentation on the Northern Ohio Rail Alliance (NORA), created April 11 among the metropolitan planning organizations of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments, Erie County Regional Planning Commission and the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency. NORA will seek planning and improvement of the busy rail corridor within its Toledo-Sandusky-Elyria-Cleveland geographic jurisdiction.

Last but not least, the 50 persons in attendance heard a  panel discussion on the emerging Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne-Chicago rail corridor by:

  • Carl A. Aveni II, attorney, Carlile Patchen & Murphy, Columbus OH
  • Richard C. Davis, nonprofit management consultant, MPA, MCRP, Fort Wayne IN
  • Fred Lanahan, Board President, Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association and Chairman of Citilink, Fort Wayne IN

The panel discussed the proposed passenger rail service and its economic benefits, especially its important in attracting companies to cities in Ohio and Indiana seeking fast, comfortable and productive business travel to the first- and third-largest cities in the Midwest — Chicago and Columbus. Fort Wayne’s low-cost of living would be less than 90 minutes by train from Chicago’s Loop. Warsaw, IN seeks rail access to O’Hare Airport as this small town is a global center for health care companies with its multi-billion-dollar orthopedic manufacturing cluster. Lima is home to growing energy companies, including their manufacturers and suppliers, plus the headquarters of Marathon Petroleum Corp. in nearby Findlay.  Marysville is home to Honda of America.

And Columbus is a growing city that’s home to an increasing number of Fortune 500 companies, yet it is the largest city in North America without any regularly scheduled passenger rail or light-rail transit services. As a frequent traveler to Chicago on business, Mr. Aveni lamented this lack of rail access which is a major shortcoming for Central Ohio. Columbus must compete for jobs and businesses with other Midwest cities like Detroit, St. Louis, Kalamazoo, Springfield, Battle Creek and Bloomington-Normal that are gaining 110 mph passenger trains to the heart of Chicago.