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Amtrak proposing expansion of service in Cleveland as part of 'visionary plan'

Amtrak is looking at adding five new Ohio routes, including corridor service for Cleveland
Credit: Bill Sikes
An Amtrak Acela Express passenger train pulls into the station on Wednesday, Dec. 5, 2018, in Westwood, Mass.

CLEVELAND — In what it calls a 'visionary plan,' Amtrak is seeking to expand its rail service across the nation, including five new routes in Ohio.

According to All Aboard Ohio, a public transportation advocacy group, the new routes would include:

  • Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati (3C) Corridor: three daily round trips with intermediate station stops
  • Cleveland-Toledo-Detroit-Pontiac: three daily round trips with intermediate station stops, including a possible extension of Wolverine Corridor train service from Chicago
  • Cleveland-Pittsburgh-New York: one daily round trip with intermediate station stops via an extension of Keystone Corridor train service
  • Cleveland-Buffalo-Albany-New York: two daily round trips with intermediate station stops
  • Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Chicago: four daily round trips with intermediate station stops;

Amtrak's ambitious expansion would be financed completely by federal money through a proposed new rail program.

"We have developed a visionary plan to expand rail service across the nation, providing service to large metropolitan areas that have little or no Amtrak service," Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari tells 3News in an email. "Frequent and reliable corridor routes of typically less than 500 miles represent the fastest growing segment of Amtrak service. Population growth, changing demographics, travel preferences and environmental concerns all point to new opportunities for intercity passenger rail."

According to the Ashtabula Star-Beacon, Ashtabula city officials were contacted by Amtrak last week. Ashtabula would be a stop on the Cleveland-Buffalo-Albany-New York route. Ashtabula will also be recognized and mentioned by name in the re-appropriation of the Surface Transportation Bill to be presented to Congress.

"We are working with our state partners, local officials and other stakeholders to understand their interests in new and improved Amtrak service and will be releasing that plan soon. We will call on Congress to authorize and fund Amtrak’s expansion in such corridors by allowing us to cover most of the initial capital and operating costs of new or expanded routes," Magliari added.

In a recent letter to Congress, Amtrak CEO Bill Flynn outlined five priorities to Congress to improve the nation's rail service, including new routes and sufficient funding. 

But as All Aboard Ohio points out, in order for the state to gain new passenger services, the Ohio Department of Transportation will have to request it from Amtrak or other operators. Once an agreement is in place with a state entity, Amtrak may pay up to 100 percent of the capital costs to initiate new or additional services.

Ohio is the nation’s most populous state without a passenger rail program, according to All Aboard Ohio.

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Editor's Note: The below story aired in 2018