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Ohio seeks federal funds to study passenger rail service; moves closer to possible Amtrak expansion

Two corridors, Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati and Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit, are up for advanced consideration, according to ORDC.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In an effort to possibly expand Ohio’s current Amtrak system, Governor Mike DeWine directed the Ohio Rail Development Commission to apply for the first phase of federal funding to study the passenger rail service.

“The information we gather from this effort will help us make informed decisions about federal opportunities for passenger rail in Ohio,” DeWine said.

Two corridors, Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati and Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit, are up for advanced consideration, according to ORDC. If the application is successful, the Federal Railroad Administration would provide $500,000 in funding per corridor.

RELATED: Amtrak releases plans for service throughout Ohio, connecting Columbus, Cincinnati, Cleveland

“Under Governor DeWine’s direction, we have been talking with Amtrak for quite some time to explore options and gather information.  Our work with Amtrak was necessary for a federal application but it is just the first step,” said Matthew Dietrich, Executive Director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

Approved federal funds would allow Ohio to bring in a consultant to prepare a scope of work for a Service Development Plan. This plan includes information about the track improvements, equipment, stations and other facilities, operating costs, ridership and required state subsidies that are needed to start service.

This announcement is the state’s first step toward expanding passenger rail in the state. ORDC said that the federal corridor identification and development program, signed into law by President Joe Biden in November of 2021, would assist the state in assessing potential intercity passenger rail corridors.

“The Governor has been very clear that for this to work for Ohio, it is not just a matter of cost,” Dietrich said. “It has to be done in a way that does not impede freight rail traffic in the state that is so important to our economy and our businesses.”

RELATED: Study: Amtrak station could potentially be built near Greater Columbus Convention Center

U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown released the following statement in support of the Governor’s decision: 

“I applaud Governor DeWine and our regional leaders for starting the process to pursue Amtrak expansion. The Bipartisan Infrastructure Law made billions of dollars available so states like Ohio can expand passenger rail service. I’m working with Secretary Buttigieg to make sure Ohio gets its fair share, or more – and I hope that the entire delegation will join me in supporting this effort. Expanding Amtrak in Ohio, whether along current routes or by connecting Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati, would transform our state’s economy and improve mobility for all Ohioans. I will continue to fight to make Ohio’s transit more reliable and efficient so more Ohioans can access employment and education opportunities across the state.”

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