Dec. 19, 2016
For Immediate Release
Contact: Ken Prendergast 844-464-7245
All Aboard Ohio is grateful to the business and civic leaders along the Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne-Chicago rail corridor for their leadership and vision in raising funds to start an Alternatives Analysis and Public Input process for high-performance passenger rail into Chicago. This phase represents a starting point for the Project Development Process (PDP) for all major transportation capital improvement projects.
We also thank the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) for submitting an application to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to support the analysis. INDOT offered the locally raised funds, totaling $350,000, to start the PDP as part of an arrangement with the FRA. All Aboard Ohio thanks the FRA for responding to this application with its support for this first step of planning work that is due to be completed at the end of 2017. All of this success was made possible due to the efforts of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.
To All Aboard Ohio, the benefits of developing the Columbus-Lima-Fort Wayne-Chicago corridor aren’t limited to this corridor. Significant parts of this corridor can and should be designed and developed as a trunk route for more and faster passenger trains from/to Ohio’s largest cities, including Cleveland and Cincinnati as well (see map below).
“There are only two rail corridors to the east of Chicago that lack heavy freight rail traffic and could offer the potential for frequent, reliable, 110-mph passenger trains,” said Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio. “One already does – the Wolverine Corridor that was upgraded with infrastructure and safety improvements that allow 110 mph speeds for three state-sponsored Michigan passenger rail routes into Chicago.
“The other is the Fort Wayne Line,” Prendergast added. “With the support of more Ohio civic leaders like Lima Mayor David Berger, the Fort Wayne Line may someday be the route that all Ohio rail passengers use to enter Chicago safely, swiftly and reliably. We encourage more Ohio leaders to get on board the train to the Midwest’s economic capital.”
Trains from Ohio using the Fort Wayne Line into Chicago could travel to the Windy City from Columbus, Cincinnati or Cleveland in four hours or less. Travelers in closer-in cities like Toledo and Lima could arrive in downtown Chicago in three hours or less, regardless of bad weather while staying digitally connected and productive in their work. Passengers could relax on the train after a day of business in the Windy City with a cold drink or hot meal in the cafe car or by finishing up work so they can spend the evening with their family.
“With today’s announcement in Fort Wayne, we are now one step closer to realizing this vision,” Prendergast said. “Every long journey begins with a single step. That journey is now under way.”
A 2013 rail corridor feasibility study concluded that approximately 2.1 million riders would use the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route in 2020, with that number growing to more than three million in 2040. The study also estimated that for every $1 of investment, $1.70 would be generated in economic return through job growth and increased property values.