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Ohio rail advocacy group pushing for Cleveland Amtrak station at Tower City

“Restoring railroad passenger service to Tower City Center, the former Cleveland Union Terminal, finally makes sense."

CLEVELAND — Editor's Note: The above Amtrak video is from a previously published story

The future of Amtrak in Cleveland has taken on greater significance in the past few months. Daily rail service through Cleveland is set to return in late May, while Amtrak envisions an ambitious expansion plan that involves Cleveland and the state of Ohio.

All Aboard Ohio, a non-profit passenger rail advocacy group, is seizing on this momentum and voted unanimously this week to favor Tower City Center as the site for a proposed Amtrak mini-hub.

“Restoring railroad passenger service to Tower City Center, the former Cleveland Union Terminal (CUT), finally makes sense,” said All Aboard Ohio Public Affairs Director Ken Prendergast in a statement. “It didn’t make sense with Amtrak running just one or two trains each day in the middle of the night. But it does make sense for Amtrak’s proposed Cleveland mini-hub in bringing significant new passenger traffic and business activity to downtown Cleveland.”

All Aboard Ohio's board says it would not oppose development of the existing Amtrak station site as the transportation hub. However, they do point to several reasons why a move to Tower City would make sense:

  • Amtrak is proposing new routes and expanded services on existing routes that could grow its passenger rail services at Cleveland from four nightly trains to 22 trains a day, arriving and departing around the clock. All Aboard Ohio believes that Amtrak passenger boardings at Cleveland may grow from 50,000 per year (or one-fifth of Greyhound’s traffic here) currently to 500,000-1 million (or up to one-fifth of Hopkins International Airport’s annual traffic). This passenger traffic projection is based on rail service levels existing at other mid-sized metro areas.
  • Sherwin-Williams has donated the property on which its John G. Breen Technology Center sets to the city of Cleveland, prior to its planned relocation to Brecksville in 2024. With the research facility gone, it allows for the western throat of an Amtrak station at Tower City Center to be built around the Stokes Federal Courthouse.

“We think there are a lot of reasons to have an Amtrak station at Tower City Center,” Prendergast added. “They include the region’s rail transit and bus hub already in and next to Tower City, the proximity of many businesses and attractions, the potential for co-locating with an expansion of the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad, having a station free of interference from freight trains and a crossing of the Cuyahoga River that won’t further inconvenience boaters and commercial shipping.”

All Aboard Ohio is concerned that time may become a factor in moving Amtrak to Tower City. They note that development is possibly on the horizon for the Riverview parking lots, between Huron and Canal roads.

“With future development possibly encroaching on the Riverview parking lots between Huron and Canal roads, this may well be our last opportunity to restore passenger railroad service to what was the Cleveland Union Terminal,” Prendergast added. “Cleveland has a good back-up location on the lakefront, but we’d like to see the better location explored now before it’s too late.”

The Cleveland Union Terminal handled the city's passenger train service from 1929 through 1977. Since then, Amtrak has operated from its station just off the Shoreway near E. 9th Street. 

All Aboard Ohio believes that with an Amtrak station, Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad station and Greyhound station — all combined under one roof at Tower City Center — the total passenger traffic from all three modes could exceed 1.3 million boardings per year.

More Amtrak coverage:

Editor's Note: The below video featured Amtrak coverage from a previous story

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