Posts Tagged ‘Chicago-Columbus rail route’

Fort Wayne Group Pressing Ahead for Rail Service

May 14, 2019

The pending discontinuance of the Chicago-Indianapolis Hoosier State is not discouraging Fort Wayne, Indiana, interests seeking to revive intercity rail service.

The Northern Indiana Rail Passenger Alliance is working to establish a route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, that would pass through Fort Wayne.

Both Fort Wayne and Columbus previously had Amtrak service but lost it. Columbus fell off the Amtrak route map in October 1979 with the discontinuance of the National Limited while Fort Wayne lost the Broadway Limited and Capitol Limited in late 1990 when both trains were rerouted.

The Indiana General Assembly recently adopted a two-year budget that did not include continued funding for the quad-weekly Hoosier State.

But NIPRA officials say the state’s ending of Hoosier State funding won’t affect their work although it could affect it somewhat.

“It makes our job that much more difficult in getting the story out that the investment in passenger rail in our corridor will have an economic development payoff and attract young professionals to Fort Wayne and attract visitors to Fort Wayne,” said Rich Juram, NIPRA’s board president.

Nonetheless, he said “there’s not a direct relationship between that situation and the project here in northern Indiana, the line from Chicago to Fort Wayne and then continuing on from Fort Wayne to Columbus.”

Juram said his organization is sad to see the Hoosier State end, but said that service “was woefully inadequate for the market.”

Geoff Paddock, a Fort Wayne City Council member who favors the Chicago-Columbus service said losing the Hoosier State will hurt in the sense that the bigger the footprint is for passenger rail the better it is for having rail as a transportation option.

“Eliminating that funding and that investment in that line could be a detriment to our efforts to bring passenger rail back to Fort Wayne,” he said.

Paddock said one takeaway about the demise of the Hoosier State is that passenger advocates need to work with state legislators to make their case.

The Chicago-Columbus service would not be cheap to develop as it has been proposed.

It would require capital costs of $898 million to rebuilt track, signals and other infrastructure to support two daily roundtrips with a top speed of 79 mph.

The cost of four roundtrips traveling 110 mph would be $1.23 billion.

Advocates for the service say that money would largely need to come from state and federal funds.

Paddock said the Chicago-Columbus route may be in a more favorable position than was the Hoosier State because it has better tracks.

In the meantime, supporters of the route are working on an environmental impact study.

Study Favors Chicago-Fort Wayne Service

October 28, 2018

A preliminary study has determined that intercity rail passenger service between Fort Wayne and Chicago is possible between 2026 and 2030.

The study estimated the trains on the route could carry between 387,000 and 765,000 passengers a year by 2035.

Ridership will hinge on the average train speed and number of trips offered. The study examined various scenarios ranging from a top speed of 79 mph to 101 mph.

Although the study looked only at the segment between Chicago and Fort Wayne, that corridor is part of a larger route between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, via Valparaiso, Gary, Plymouth, and Warsaw in Indiana, and Lima in Ohio.

The route between Chicago and Lima would follow or run parallel to the former route of Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited, which was rerouted away from those cities in late 1990.

The study, conducted by consulting firm HNTB, determined that the estimated capital costs are about $898 million for 79-mph service and $1.2 billion for 101 mph.

Columbus to Help Fund Passenger Rail Study

June 12, 2017

The city of Columbus has agreed to contribute $250,000 toward the planning efforts to establish intercity rail service between Ohio’s capital city and Chicago.

That amount will be added to the $350,000 already committed by other cities, businesses and others.

All Aboard Ohio, a rail passenger advocacy group, reported in its June newsletter that some central Ohio entities that it didn’t name might contribute another $100,000.

Work on the proposed Chicago-Columbus route is being conducted by the Federal Railroad Administration and the engineering firm HNTB.

Their planning efforts are currently focused on the former Pennsylvania Railroad mainline between Lima, Ohio, and Gary, Indiana, that was once used by Amtrak’s Chicago-New York Broadway Limited and Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited.

The preferred route from Columbus is the CSX Toledo Terminal and Scottslawn subdivisions, which cross the ex-PRR mainline at Dunkirk, Ohio.

In a related move, the FRA is reported to be well along in creating a Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study.

That document will create a 40-year vision that builds on the Midwest Regional Rail Initiative that was proposed more than a decade ago but has never been implemented.

The Midwest Midwest rail concept would cost an estimated $2.5 billion for new locomotives, passenger cars, upgraded tracks, modernized stations, increased train frequencies and faster travel times.

The Ohio Rail Development Commission is participating in the plan, which will establish the priorities, and studies and investments needed to implement projects in the coming decades.

Chicago-Columbus Study to be Completed This Year

May 31, 2017

A study of passenger rail service between Chicago and Columbus is expected to be completed by late this year.

HNTB Corporation is analyzing operating plans and preliminary costs for the proposed service, a review that is required by the National Environmental Policy Act to begin the project.

Completion of the analysis would enable the project to receive federal funds for design and construction.

HNTB will recommend a route, operating speeds, train frequency and station sites, as well as estimated ridership and revenue. The $350,000 study is being paid for by cities and businesses along the corridor, including Fort Wayne, Indiana, which lost Amtrak service in late 1990.

The route would initially have a top speed of 75 mph with an eventual goal 110 mph travel.

“We are making great progress in our efforts to return passenger rail to Fort Wayne and northern Indiana and northwest Ohio,” said Geoff Paddock, a member of  the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association.“This passenger-rail line will boost economic development efforts by connecting people and businesses throughout the region and it will enhance the quality of life for area residents.”

The group said in December 2016 that the Federal Railroad Administration would conduct the alternatives analysis and solicit public input on the project. HNTB was the contractor hired to complete that study.

Chicago-Columbus Route Planning to Start

December 20, 2016

All Aboard Ohio said Monday that enough funding has been raised to begin what it described as an alternatives analysis and public input process for a proposed Chicago-Columbus passenger rail route.

Amtrak 4The Indiana Department of Transportation submitted an application to the Federal Railroad Administration in support of the planning process for the route.

In a news release, AAO, a rail passenger advocacy group based in Cleveland, said INDOT offered the locally-raised funds, totaling $350,000, to start the planning process as part of an arrangement with the FRA.

The initial planning work is to be completed by late 2017.  AAO also said the support of the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association was also critical.

The Chicago-Columbus route would operate via Fort Wayne, Indiana, and Lima, Ohio, using large portions of the former Pennsylvania Railroad’s Fort Wayne Line, which hosted Amtrak trains until November 1990 when the trains were rerouted due to Conrail downgrading the route.

“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 AAO.

The Fort Wayne Line is one of those with Amtrak’s Chicago-Detroit being the other.

Prendergast noted that work is already underway to upgrade the Michigan corridor for 110-mph passenger service.

Ohio Communities OK Rail Route Study Funding

November 9, 2016

All Aboard Ohio repots that communities and counties in Ohio have been approving funding for a tier I environmental assessment for a proposed Chicago-Columbus high-performance passenger rail corridor.

OhioFunding pledges have already been approved in Indiana.

The assessment is the first step toward developing a major transportation project.

Backing the project has been the Northern Indiana/Ohio Passenger Rail Initiative, comprised of the nine largest cities on the preferred corridor.

Also taking part are the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission and Indiana Department of Transportation.

The project promoters are expected to seek a $2.56 million federal grant for the Tier I assessment.

A high-performance rail corridor can involve building a new right of way or rehabilitating an existing rail line by adding safety features that would allow higher train speeds.

A tier I assessments identifies the most cost-effective, environmentally benign route(s), potential station sites and may include a service development plan.