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Thread: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

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    Titanic Struggles Caveat Emperor's Avatar
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    Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Story below the fold.

    I'm usually a big proponent of mass-transit, but I can't figure out who thinks this plan (in it's current form) is a good idea. For starters, using low-speed trains instead of high-seed trains makes no sense (other than to save money) -- on a low-speed line, the trips between cities take significantly longer than driving would. Additionally, using shared trackspace ensures that passenger lines will be further delayed by sidetracking when freight comes through.

    Finally, even if you can live with the additional time spent and costs associated with train travel, the train lines don't appear to end in places anyone wants to be. Cincinnati's proposed train station would be near Lunken Airport -- nowhere near any destinations that exist (stadiums, downtown dining and entertainment, etc.) or are planned (the banks). That means, in addition to your train ticket, you're also forced to spring for cab fare wherever you're going from Cincinnati's non-extensive taxi fleet.

    This whole thing seems half-baked, which is a shame because when it inevitably collapses, it'll set back any real progress on mass transit.

    http://news.cincinnati.com/article/2...p-rail-service

    Ohio will get about $400 million in federal stimulus money to establish a passenger train service linking its major cities, putting the state at the center of a developing national rail system, Gov. Ted Strickland said Wednesday.

    The money is part of $8 billion in stimulus grants that President Barack Obama has set aside for high-speed trains and other passenger rail projects.

    Ohio is planning a 79-mph startup service that will run on existing freight tracks connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati beginning in 2012.

    It figures to be a marquee stimulus project, billed as a jobs creator in an important swing state where Strickland, a Democrat, is facing re-election.

    Obama planned to be in Florida on Thursday to announce additional stimulus awards for rail projects.

    "Competition for this was stiff, and I'm very appreciative," Strickland said. U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called him with the news, he said.

    About 6 million people live along the 255-mile Ohio train route, making it one of the most heavily populated corridors without rail service in the Midwest ó a major selling point that state transportation officials made in their October stimulus application.

    Private passenger train service on the route ended 40 years ago.

    Ohio had asked for $564 million in stimulus money, considerably more than it ended up getting. The state could scale back its plan by purchasing refurbished rail cars instead of new ones, said Ken Prendergast, executive director of All Aboard Ohio, a rail advocacy group.

    Amtrak released a study in September predicting that a restored service in Ohio would draw 478,000 riders in its first year and has the demographics needed for successful operations, including population density and a concentration of colleges and universities.

    The state aims to build up ridership and gradually make infrastructure improvements so that tracks can handle 110 mph trains, with branches connecting to a Chicago-based Midwest corridor and East Coast cities.

    Ohio hasn't picked a company to operate the service, though Amtrak is interested.

    Norfolk Southern Corp. and CSX Corp., two companies that own most of the rail lines on the route, have said they support the project as long as passenger and freight operations don't conflict.

    Amtrak hasn't estimated fares for Ohio, but the state estimates an average ticket price for a one-way trip from Columbus to Cleveland would be $20, and $18 from Columbus to Cincinnati. Annual ticket sales are estimated at $12 million, with the state responsible for an additional $17 million operating subsidy.

    That has drawn criticism from highway construction lobbyists, who worry that Ohio would divert money from road projects to pay for the train subsidy. Republican state lawmakers also have raised questions about where the money will come from.

    Strickland said $17 million is a modest amount compared with the hundreds of millions that the state spends on highways every year.

    Ohio transportation officials plan to use a mix of funding sources to cover the subsidy, including train advertising, federal grants and fees that restaurants, hotels and gas stations pay to advertise on blue highway exit signs.

    Amtrak's study also didn't address the costs that cities on the route would have to pay to build train stations, which, depending on their size and features, can cost as low as $2 million or as much as the $26.4 million transportation hub that opened two years ago in St. Louis.

    Total travel time on the route would be 6 hours and 30 minutes. That's about what it would take to drive the same corridor, but longer than a more direct route between Cleveland and Cincinnati on Interstate 71 that takes 4 1/2 hours by car.

    Time isn't the only factor that determines ridership, state transportation officials have said. Cost, safety, reliability and passenger convenience are other important factors. Ohio anticipates that the trains would be equipped with Wi-Fi service.
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    Vampire Weekend @Bernie's camisadelgolf's Avatar
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    I agree with you, Caveat Emperor. In fact, I'm so fond of public transit that I think cars should be completely eradicated, and I'm really happy that an effort is being made, but this seems like a horrible way to go about improving public transit.

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    Be the ball Roy Tucker's Avatar
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    I'm all for mass transit too. But even half-baked seems generous.

    It seems more like "gee, here's a $400M bone, go do something with it".


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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by Roy Tucker View Post
    I'm all for mass transit too. But even half-baked seems generous.

    It seems more like "gee, here's a $400M bone, go do something with it".

    Half-baked is right. California and Florida are getting full-blown, dedicated high-speed rail.
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    I think whether this can work or not will depend on how easy it is to transform these lines into high speed lines.
    At 40 MPH average, this won't work, at 75 MPH average I think it will.

    Also if this proves to be any success, maybe the city could send a special bus from Lunken to downtown, or expand the street car line to Lunken.
    Last edited by Hoosier Red; 01-28-2010 at 02:59 PM.
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    I agree with you, Caveat Emperor. In fact, I'm so fond of public transit that I think cars should be completely eradicated, and I'm really happy that an effort is being made, but this seems like a horrible way to go about improving public transit.
    For some people, myself included, public transportation on a daily basis just doesn't work due to medical conditions.

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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    It remains to be seen what getting $400M does to this project instead of the full requested amount. The speculation is that the initial southern terminus will be Sharonville and not downtown Cincy.

    I have high hopes of being able to use this to return to Cincy and commute to Dayton. But I'll only be able to do that if this is properly executed. And I don't know if it will be.
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by dougdirt View Post
    For some people, myself included, public transportation on a daily basis just doesn't work due to medical conditions.
    I shouldn't have overgeneralized like that because there are exceptions to everything. I just happen to believe that we should do everything within reason to eliminate as many harmful emissions as possible, and I think getting rid of gas-fueled cars would be a great start. Don't get me wrong--I love driving and think it has many benefits--but I also think it's selfish and harms most of us more than it helps us, particularly in the long run.

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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    I've always liked the idea of trains running from Cleveland to Columbus and Cincinnati, but I think for it to truly work, they have to get it right. From the route map and the proposed stations I've seen, I don't think they do. First, they have to put the stations in spots that provide easy access for a large amount of riders. I don't know where they plan on putting the Columbus and Dayton terminals, but the Cincinnati and Cleveland terminals just sound awful. Lunken Airport? W. 150/Puritas? Bad ideas. The route and terminal locations pretty much guarantee that no one on the east or south side of the greater Cleveland area are going to use it, and it cuts out a huge part of the Cleveland metro area by cutting off Akron and Canton. I could see it working for Northeast Ohio if the route went south from Downtown Cleveland with stops in Independence and Downtown Akron (Canton is close enough to Akron to encourage folks to catch the train in Akron). The route could then follow closer to I-76 and I-71 to Columbus. But no one from the east side of Cleveland, Akron or Canton is going to drive 45 min - 1 1/2 hours to get to a west side train station to go to Columbus or Cincinnati. The time it would take me to get to the train station from north of Akron would be about the same time it takes me to get half-way to Columbus. With all the added time it would take to get to the station, get on the train, take it to Cincinnati and get to where I'm going down there from Lunken Airport, it essentially turns a half-day trip into an all day trip.
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by Rojo View Post
    Half-baked is right. California and Florida are getting full-blown, dedicated high-speed rail.
    Which is how this project should be done -- go all out, or don't go at all. This is the functional equivalent of giving every school child a used IBM ThinkPad (c1995) and claiming that we're really pushing forward on our efforts to keep kids current with computers.

    Rail is an uphill battle in this part of the country. The only way to sell it is to do it so well that the public has to take notice. High speed trains between the major cities, rail stations in business / entertainment centers for easy access to destinations within the cities, and modern train cars with modern amenities.

    As it stands, this whole thing is a "why bother."
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by camisadelgolf View Post
    I shouldn't have overgeneralized like that because there are exceptions to everything. I just happen to believe that we should do everything within reason to eliminate as many harmful emissions as possible, and I think getting rid of gas-fueled cars would be a great start. Don't get me wrong--I love driving and think it has many benefits--but I also think it's selfish and harms most of us more than it helps us, particularly in the long run.
    I have no problem getting rid of gas fueled cars (as every day vehicles.... can't quite get the HP without the gas now though for muscle cars/tractor trailers). There are many solutions out there now to do it. For whatever reason they just aren't being used right now and its a shame.
    Last edited by dougdirt; 01-28-2010 at 04:33 PM.

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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    I think this will be a epic failure if done just with Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton in mind. If 79 MPH is the desired speed I could hop in my car and drive to Columbus faster. Also I wouldn't be at the mercy of a shotty public transit system in the aforementioned cities. But I do think this could work if it is tied into a larger rail system....

    What makes the European system great is its ability to hit every major city, and minor cities, all by using the same rail. The systems run very efficient and is rather easy to ride. The way this proposed rail could work is enabling people living in Cincinnati to hop a train and ride it to Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, Charleston, etc. Giving passengers the opportunity to buy a reasonable priced rail ticket as opposed to driving and I think it will work.

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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Eh, at least this is something, if I were going to Cleveland I'd rather sit and read a book for 6 hours then drive up the horrendously boring I-71.
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by KronoRed View Post
    Eh, at least this is something, if I were going to Cleveland I'd rather sit and read a book for 6 hours then drive up the horrendously boring I-71.
    I'd rather get there in 4 hours than 6, but I see your point.
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    SERP Emeritus paintmered's Avatar
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    Re: Funding approved for "3C" (Cincy-Cbus-Cle) Rail Line

    Quote Originally Posted by bucksfan2 View Post
    I think this will be a epic failure if done just with Cleveland, Columbus, Cincinnati, and Dayton in mind. If 79 MPH is the desired speed I could hop in my car and drive to Columbus faster. Also I wouldn't be at the mercy of a shotty public transit system in the aforementioned cities. But I do think this could work if it is tied into a larger rail system....

    What makes the European system great is its ability to hit every major city, and minor cities, all by using the same rail. The systems run very efficient and is rather easy to ride. The way this proposed rail could work is enabling people living in Cincinnati to hop a train and ride it to Chicago, St. Louis, Nashville, Atlanta, Charleston, etc. Giving passengers the opportunity to buy a reasonable priced rail ticket as opposed to driving and I think it will work.
    Two big points here: first, this is just the first step in a much larger plan that will eventually include routes to Pittsburgh, Toronto, Detroit, Toledo, Indy, and Chicago. Second, the plan calls for eventual speeds of 110 MPH. All this has to start somewhere and the most crucial step is to connect the biggest dots on the map first.

    See the full plan here: http://www2.dot.state.oh.us/ohiorail...rdc/index.html
    Last edited by paintmered; 01-28-2010 at 05:37 PM.
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