All Aboard Ohio welcomes the Pittsburgh-Columbus-Chicago high-speed transportation study announced today by the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission of passenger rail and Hyperloop. This important study will extend to Columbus and Pittsburgh the planning work already occurring between Gary, IN-Lima, OH of 110-mph high-performance passenger rail and add Hyperloop as an alternative technology for consideration. Because Hyperloop is an unproven technology that does not operate in revenue service anywhere, a feasibility study of its practicality is warranted. It remains to be seen whether this technology is better suited to moving passengers or shipping time-sensitive freight between regional distribution centers.
“Because of this and because Hyperloop, if built, is unlikely to serve any cities between the major cities of Pittsburgh, Columbus, Fort Wayne and Chicago, it is important to also advance the planning for and development of proven, modern, high-performance passenger rail,” said All Aboard Ohio Executive Director Ken Prendergast.
High performance passenger rail, when combined with station-area real estate development in major urban centers and small cities alike, is a growth industry for public-private partnerships throughout America and around the world. Brightline in Florida, Acela Express in the Northeast Corridor, Texas Central in the Lone Star State, and higher-speed (90-110 mph) passenger rail in the Midwest, California and Pacific Northwest are all models for Ohio.
“Brightline, in particular, is leading a disruptive renaissance in passenger rail,” Prendergast said. “It’s a private-sector initiative that creates and captures value and positive synergies between transportation and supportive land use to eliminate the need for ongoing operating subsidies. A similar initiative between Columbus and Chicago could capitalize on both cities’ economic growth as well as a reported fire sale of CSX-owned rail corridors and the state’s ownership of a significant portion of the rail corridor between Columbus and Pittsburgh.”
Columbus-Chicago is already part of a Midwest Regional Rail Plan, sponsored by the Federal Railroad Administration, that considers this travel corridor as viable for passenger rail. This plan is scheduled to be released this spring. Envisioned for Columbus-Chicago are limited-stop express trains taking less than four hours to reach downtown Chicago regardless of weather, and local-stop trains boosting local economies in smaller cities in between. Fares will cost less than flying or driving while on-board comfort and business travel productivity will be superior to all other forms of transportation. The planning funds contributed by the City of Marysville, City of Lima and Union County demonstrate the interest by these en-route communities in being served by this transportation corridor.