Sep 29, 2023 - News

Details on Amtrak expansion studies expected soon

Illustration of a shrug emoji made out of railroad tracks.

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

More passenger trains could be rolling through Cleveland in a few short years.

Driving the news: The Federal Railroad Administration plans to announce rail corridors it will study for potential Amtrak expansion in either November or December, spokesperson William Wong tells Axios.

Catch up quick: The 2021 bipartisan infrastructure package, signed into law by President Biden, allocated billions of dollars toward expanding rail service.

  • States and regional planning organizations like the Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency (NOACA) have since applied for federal funding to study proposed corridors.

Zoom in: Last year, NOACA requested that the FRA study five routes that pass through Cleveland.

  • Cleveland-Elyria-Sandusky-Toledo-Chicago
  • Cleveland-Buffalo-Rochester-New York City
  • Cleveland-Pittsburgh-Philadelphia-NYC
  • Cleveland-Washington, D.C.
  • Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit

Plus: The state applied for funding to study the long discussed "3C&D" line that would connect Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati and Dayton.

State of play: Currently, only two Amtrak train lines pass through Cleveland — the Capitol Limited (D.C. to Chicago) and the Lake Shore Limited (NYC to Chicago).

  • Yes, but: Both depart Cleveland at inconvenient overnight hours, typically between 2-5am.

The intrigue: As Cleveland pursues massive development projects on both Lake Erie and the Cuyahoga River, rail expansion advocates have proposed moving Amtrak service from the current station at North Coast Harbor to Tower City.

  • "The lakefront might suffice if you're convinced Cleveland will never see passenger rail expansion again," rail advocate and real estate blogger Ken Prendergast wrote in May. "Even so, there's significant value to be gained by uniting under one roof Greater Cleveland's individually small and disconnected passenger rail services."

The bottom line: "We've got a half a dozen irons in the fire for passenger rail in Ohio," Stu Nicholson, executive director of the advocacy group All Aboard Ohio, tells Axios. "Let's stop talking about stuff and get stuff built."

🚆 Worth your time: Earlier this year, Cleveland Magazine's Annie Nickoloff rode 1,000 miles on the Lake Shore Limited.

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