FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — February 8, 2011
All Aboard Ohio Executive Director
CLEVELAND – All Aboard Ohio applauded the Obama Administration’s announcement today for investing $53 billion over six years into high-speed rail projects nationwide to help diversify America’s transportation system after completion of the Interstate highway program.
The nonprofit educational association seeks a 220-mph high-speed rail corridor linking a Chicago-based Midwest high-speed system and the Northeast Corridor. This will serve more population than China’s 818-mile Jinghu high-speed railway between Beijing and Shanghai due to open in 2011. All Aboard Ohio urges that an interim 90 mph service be implemented while the planning, design, property acquisition and construction is carried out on the 220-mph corridor over 15-30 years. See our Midwest-East Coast HSR report (2.7MB).
“We look forward to a good working relationship with the Obama Administration and Congress to continue America’s leadership in transportation and infrastructure development,” said All Aboard Ohio President Bill Hutchison. “We need to diversify our transportation system to create jobs, accommodate future growth in light of our overburdened highway and airport networks, respond to a changing travel marketplace and population demographics while acknowledging constrained global oil supplies and environmental concerns.”
He added: “It isn’t just Europe and the Pacific Rim that are adding 21st-century high-speed rail, but Turkey, Brazil, Iran, Morocco, Russia and others. If that isn’t a Sputnik-like warning to America that we cannot ignore modernizing our infrastructure any longer and expect to compete globally, I don’t know what is.”
High-speed rail offers low-cost travel comparable to the low-fare airlines but with greater on-board amenities and comfort, downtown-to-downtown convenience, plus a mix of service classes including express, regional and local services. The latter two often serve smaller cities, suburban stations and airports in addition to major city centers.
All Aboard Ohio noted that federal leadership for a public-private partnership approach to developing high-speed rail can achieve bi-partisan support. U.S. Rep. John L. Mica (R-FL), the Republican chair of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, and U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster (R-PA), ranking member of the Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials Subcommittee have both supported public-private partnerships to advance high-speed rail projects.
All Aboard Ohio said the president’s announcement today could soon mean good things for Ohio. Specifically, the nonprofit educational association noted that following:
- Recent feasibility studies were conducted of a Chicago-based 220-mph high-speed rail network, including from Chicago to Cincinnati, Toledo and Cleveland. French national railroad SNCF has offered to lead a partnership to develop these services by the end of this decade;
- Amtrak conducted a high-level feasibility study of 220-mph service in the Northeast Corridor last year. For Midwest-Northeast HSR, this would address high-speed rail infrastructure for accessing many Northeast Corridor central business districts;
- The Federal Railroad Administration last month awarded $750,000 to PennDOT (which is matching the amount) to plan for an extension of the Keystone Corridor’s 110-mph electrified passenger rail service west from Harrisburg to Pittsburgh.
All Aboard Ohio pointed out that Ohioans will benefit from high-speed rail investments in many ways:
- Ohio is already the nation’s fifth-largest rail industry supplier, as ranked by employment of 26,000 employees at more than 200 companies (SOURCE: Ohio Department of Transportation);
- Ohio, one of the nation’s top-ten most-populous states, is geographically positioned between the emerging Chicago- and Northeast Corridor-based high-speed rail systems (SOURCE: U.S Census).
- Travel to downtown Chicago from Cleveland, Columbus or Cincinnati could be 2-3 hours; travel to midtown Manhattan from Cleveland could be about 3 hours, or from Toledo in about 3½ hours; and travel to Washington DC from Cleveland could be about 2½ hours (SOURCE: based on China’s Jinghu HSR average speeds).
“The planning for high-speed rail is already underway between the Midwest and Northeast and will continue to progress. And now the President of the United States has offered a means to start financing that vision. We urge Ohioans to join with the president in bringing our state into the 21st century,” Hutchison concluded.