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Restarting Passenger Rail In Ohio's 3C Corridor

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I've ridden the Cardinal 7 or 8 times out of Cincinnati. Anecdotally, ridership is normally around 20-50 people training and detraining per trip at Union Terminal.

 

One thing to keep in mind is that in it's normal configuration the Cardinal's capacity is around 175 riders (50 per coach + 25 in the sleeper). So that 306 riders each direction includes each seat turning more than once. Amtrak is short cars right now. They were able to bump the Cardinal to 4 coaches  and 2 sleepers during the holidays, but that required rearranging the maintenance schedules, and it's running with only 2 coaches right now.

 

Normally about 3/4ths of a coach turns at Cincinnati. I think that's impressive giving the crappy call times and schedule.

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Why does Cincinnati have three-day a week service - at night? Here is a rundown:

 

1. CSXT controls most of the line and having frequent service would require the installation of more sidings and possibly lengthy double-track segments so that passenger trains have priority.

2. The Buckingham Branch Railroad, a Class III, is a combination of many former railroads in Virginia. The route Amtrak uses is very congested with traffic shared with CSXT. Lengthy sidings would need to be constructed for passenger priority.

 

The Cardinal has around 113,000 passengers, which is near its record high ridership of 116,000 it had in 2012. It also has record revenue - $7.7 million in 2013.

 

For more reliable and faster service, you will need politicians at the state and federal level advocating for more sidings and double track. It's not a cheap move and CSXT carries a lot of weight.

 

The Cardinal will never be high speed by nature of its route - it goes through mountainous territory on lines that are over a century old.

 

Doesn't look good for Cincinnati having expanded Amtrak service, let alone a high-speed line to Chicago.

 

Do you got some details or what?

 

This was a respone to Sherman Cahal's gloomy post.  Geez.

 

Well I didn't read it as gloomy, I read it as a few easy steps to get the service moving much faster, since I believe KJP and others have said that the cost is not that high to make these improvements, compared to say Interstate beltways, etc.  I also read it as saying the Cardinal in general won't become high speed because of the terrain east of Cincinnati, but the terrain from Cincinnati to Chicago is not difficult, it is mostly all very flat.  Because I didn't read the gloomy, it came off that you were trolling.  Apologies for coming off that way.

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Why does Cincinnati have three-day a week service - at night? Here is a rundown:

 

1. CSXT controls most of the line and having frequent service would require the installation of more sidings and possibly lengthy double-track segments so that passenger trains have priority.

2. The Buckingham Branch Railroad, a Class III, is a combination of many former railroads in Virginia. The route Amtrak uses is very congested with traffic shared with CSXT. Lengthy sidings would need to be constructed for passenger priority.

 

The Cardinal has around 113,000 passengers, which is near its record high ridership of 116,000 it had in 2012. It also has record revenue - $7.7 million in 2013.

 

For more reliable and faster service, you will need politicians at the state and federal level advocating for more sidings and double track. It's not a cheap move and CSXT carries a lot of weight.

 

The Cardinal will never be high speed by nature of its route - it goes through mountainous territory on lines that are over a century old.

 

Doesn't look good for Cincinnati having expanded Amtrak service, let alone a high-speed line to Chicago.

 

Do you got some details or what?

 

This was a respone to Sherman Cahal's gloomy post.  Geez.

 

Well I didn't read it as gloomy, I read it as a few easy steps to get the service moving much faster, since I believe KJP and others have said that the cost is not that high to make these improvements, compared to say Interstate beltways, etc.  I also read it as saying the Cardinal in general won't become high speed because of the terrain east of Cincinnati, but the terrain from Cincinnati to Chicago is not difficult, it is mostly all very flat.  Because I didn't read the gloomy, it came off that you were trolling.  Apologies for coming off that way.

 

Thank you, apology accepted but this forum certainly doesn't like questions or anything that is not ''all aboard''.  How do activists in any area expect to gain support if folks maybe not as up to date etc on a topic are disregarded and condescended to because questions are asked. 

 

Anyway, good luck with with the 3C rail project.

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No, he's just coming back to troll some more.  He really, really wants the oil companies to make money so hopefully he volunteered for the Iraq war and is signing up his sons for the next oil war. 

 

The Cardinal runs through Cincinnati in the middle of the night because Robert Bird legislated that it travel through West Virginia during the daytime.  That was back in 1970 or 1971 and here we are, almost 50 years later, with the same absurd situation intact.

 

The Cincinnati metro has a larger population than the entire state of West Virginia.  But the schedule of the Cardinal is in Amtrak's original charter and there is nothing that can be done about it.  It can't be defunded without eliminating Amtrak entirely.  The current route to Washington, DC would make a lot of sense if there were two trains in each direction every day.  Then it could actually be useful -- right now you have to plan your entire trip to Washington around the every-other-day return date.

 

Your 1st paragraph is so off the wall to the point of being bizarre, coming across as a bit unstable.

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Many of the people on this forum are "all aboard" because, at minimum, they have personally experienced quality passenger rail services in many parts of North America and indeed the world. They have personally witnessed its benefits in terms of how people productively use their time while on board, or enjoy its comfort, or saving of money, or happenstance social interactions among its passengers, or connectivity with the landscapes riders pass through or the connectivity to each of the small towns and big cities served.

 

All the rest of the benefits are dry statistics for us policy wonks to fill in the blanks of policy papers, legislation and grant applications. Maybe you've ridden a 100+ mph train in Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania or Rhode Island, or in Ontario and Quebec. Maybe you've tried it a couple of times and found that it's not your style. That's fine, but you were able to exercise a choice. And it is the style for many people, plus you would still benefit from it whether you use it or not...if public policy allowed that choice here in the 7th-most populous state in America.


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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this forum certainly doesn't like questions or anything that is not ''all aboard''. 

 

[digression]

 

Oh, au contraire.  I can attest to that.  My own skepticism is likely even more cynical than yours.  It's based on my belief that every town along the route is going to clamor for a stop, and so much for "high speed".  That and 80mph isn't really high speed rail anyway....

 

This is anything but a cheerleader place.  Every so often someone comes in here all gung ho for (or against) something and bails because they encounter questions or skepticism

 

[/digression]

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^There are express and local trains everywhere in the world and have been for the past 150 years.  Of course, when there is just one train every other day that shows up at 3:14am, there aren't many options. 

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Your 1st paragraph is so off the wall to the point of being bizarre, coming across as a bit unstable.

 

It's not off the wall. 

 

What if we had let the Big 3 dissolve in 2008 and permitted scavengers to pick apart their assets...then the federal government set up some sort of bootleg, vastly under-funded company to produce 1/10th the cars that those three companies produced just a few years earlier?  What if in that environment, $500 billion were thrown at public transportation and intercity rail? 

 

The reverse, of course, is what actually happened.  The Penn Central went bankrupt in 1968 for a variety of reasons, one of them being the ICC's fine on profits above 6%. Capitalist hyenas like Cincinnati's Carl Lindner scooped up vast Penn Central assets for pennies on the dollar.  Amtrak was established to take over Penn Central's passenger service and then the ICC relieved the other railroads of that task and brought them into Amtrak. 

 

Outside of the northeast, Amtrak's service has always been pretty weak.  It is forced to run money-losing routes like The Cardinal for political reasons.  All of this can be fixed, but the car and oil companies have been dictating national policy for 70 years. 

 

Americans do not "love their cars", they are forced to own them because the car companies have kept viable alternatives out of nearly every corner of the country. 

 

 

 

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The reverse, of course, is what actually happened.  The Penn Central went bankrupt in 1968 for a variety of reasons, one of them being the ICC's fine on profits above 6%.

Whoa, didn't know about that one.  I knew the ICC was one of the worst examples of government overreach ever and that they basically caused the Panic of 1907, but that may top it all.

 

Once again, non-crony capitalism gets the bad rap but was not the offender.

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The reverse, of course, is what actually happened.  The Penn Central went bankrupt in 1968 for a variety of reasons, one of them being the ICC's fine on profits above 6%.

Whoa, didn't know about that one.  I knew the ICC was one of the worst examples of government overreach ever and that they basically caused the Panic of 1907, but that may top it all.

 

Once again, non-crony capitalism gets the bad rap but was not the offender.

 

That was news to me, too.  And it's the kind of thing that is really huge within a specific industry but just not big enough in a general sense to make it into economic history books.

 

Of course, these days, Amtrak would love to be operating at a +6% profit margin.  On the flip side, I'm pretty sure freight rail gets higher margins than that, and if they had profit margin caps, that would have been absurd from the perspective of increasing our national logistics capacity, given how efficient freight rail is per ton-mile compared to just about every other way of moving freight except by ship.

 

As for skepticism and optimism, I'm generally in the last-mile-first camp and therefore have been skeptical about the 3C concept even as I've been a strong cheerleader for bringing back streetcars within urban cores, followed by commuter rail between the cores and any inner-ring suburbs that have enough density or could have enough density to justify it (i.e., you could make it happen in Upper Arlington, maybe, but Powell is close to a lost cause at this point).  But the kind of legwork groups like AAO do, even just in terms of being a ready store of information about rights of way, track conditions, and so on is valuable, considering that otherwise that information would likely be only in the hands of private companies, who might not exactly treat it as company secrets but really wouldn't have any incentive to make it readily available to the public.

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I'm going by memory but I believe the ICC was established in 1906 and reached the height of its powers during WWI when the federal government took over operations of all of the nation's railroads.  Again by memory, I believe operations were returned to ownership on Jan 1, 1919.  The federal takeover kept the railroads from price gouging during wartime, and at least according to some stuff I have skimmed, led to unprecedented efficiencies.  Basically everyone was shown that the physical railroads *should* be publicly owned as they are in every other country in the world and that their operation should be a highly regulated if not entirely public operation, again, as they are pretty much everywhere else in the world. 

 

So when trucking emerged in the form we are familiar with now in the 1950s, anyone could buy 50 trucks and start their own company using the brand-new government-built superhighways.  You couldn't do the same thing with railroads since the railroads owned the actual railroads.  Specific companies had monopolies on the specific track that they themselves built 100 years earlier, but that turned out to be a disadvantage when faced with trucking competition.  The ICC was necessary in the first half of the 20th century to keep the railroads from gouging the customers on lines that they owned, but then when Penn Central and others went bankrupt in the 1960s, the time was right for the federal government to go in and buy up everything for super-cheap.  It surely could have been purchased for much less money than, say, the Vietnam War.  But railroad dysfunction was critical to the continued growth of the auto and trucking industries, so it didn't happen.   

 

 

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I did a quick google search and it appears that the excess profits penalty was relaxed or completely eliminated after WWII, but by that time many of the categories of business that the railroads were built around (and leveraged their debt upon) were under attack from all directions.  What's interesting is that the railroads were issued an excess profit credit that they could apply toward less-profitable years or years in which they reported a loss.  But the problem with all of that is that it made railroads less attractive to investors.  Meanwhile, there was nothing holding back the car companies other than a corporate income tax that was significantly higher than our current one (45% instead of 35%). 

 

When you do real research on these subjects there are moments when you want to scream out loud in the library.  I remember almost doing that when I read the financial statements of the Cincinnati Street Railway when they sold off all of the overhead copper wire from abandoned lines and had to pay 45% on the proceeds.  If that tax had been collected but had stayed local that would have been one thing (since the money that had built the street railway network was all local), but instead it drifted up to the federal level where it paid for the Korean War and H-bomb tests. 

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Except there was a wartime ticket tax enacted in 1942 to raise revenue for the war effort and to discourage unnecessary rail travel so soldiers would have the ability to get seats. Guess when that tax was rescinded? Not until 1962. Many passenger trains were discontinued by then. Five years later, after an airline executive became postmaster general, mail contracts with the railroads were canceled and moved to the airlines. When that happened, a slew of passenger trains were discontinued. The number of passenger trains in the Northeast-Midwest east of Chicago/St. Louis, including those serving Ohio cities, were immediately chopped in half. Some routes lost all passenger service and those that didn't were left with one-car passenger trains that often left prospective passengers on trackside platforms because they couldn't squeeze onto the trains. Or trains were scheduled to intentionally miss connections to discourage ridership (like the Toledo-Detroit train that was scheduled to leave Toledo five minutes before the train from Cleveland arrived). Or the railroads used a switching crew to remove a passenger car enroute to put it on a connecting train, but that crew was charged entirely to the passenger service even though they also moved freight cars around at the nearby rail yard. This is why we have an Amtrak (although in retrospect it should have been a program of grants or tax credits offered to railroads to provide desired services).

 

Ironically, the new FAST Act (passed in December) created a grant program for any railroads to operate passenger service. There's a tax credit program for short-line freight railroads, and it could be expanded to include passenger service too. And Florida East Coast Railroad's parent company which also has a real estate arm created a private subsidiary to develop passenger service and real estate at stations with each increasing the value of the other. That may become a model for other railroads to follow.


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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Over the weekend, I had a work trip in Milwakuee for a convention. So we had to transport a minivan full of cargo from Cleveland to Milwaukee, setup, present, then Sunday at 6p, tear down, and head home. We got in at 4am this morning, plus a daylight+time zone loss, and needless to say, it sucked. I'd guess it was about an 8hour drive, considering traffic, rain, fog, stops for breaks, food, and fuel. There is a fair number of tolls on that route, (roundtrip maybe $80??), and especially through Chicagoland, a fair bit of traffic. I'm wondering if something like an "auto train", where we could have driven the van onto a train in MKE, sat in a reclining passenger seat in the train, then woke up *refreshed* in Cleveland, is something that could be feasible. (I don't know how you would otherwise transport a van-full of cargo between cities. Fedex would be way too pricey. PODS would be weird).

 

Also, does anyone know if there is a way to measure demand or potential between corridors? I suppose for certain classes of travel you would look at the number of direct/connecting flights between two airports. So, if there are 25 round trip flights between two airports, then you can score it 25. You could look at AADT (Average Annual Daily Traffic, the number of vehicles that drive on highways between), and then color code the highways for the amount of vehicle throughput (green, yellow, red). Then you could see yes there is a score of x for potential between MKE/CHI, y potential between CHI/TOL, z potential between TOL/CLE.

 

For introducing / improving some sort of rail service between those corridors you could then estimate potential use if you could provide a service that someone would want to use. So, I'm guessing regular frequency, and possibly also services (auto train capacity). If you had a train that could accomplish this route 1x / day in 12 hours, then x ridership, 2x/day in 10 hours y ridership, 20x/day in 5 hours then z ridership. Then, once you have compelling modeling, you could try to drum up support for something like that. I'm interested in this demand/frequency/potential side of the equation.

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The Channel Tunnel does an auto train for a distance of just 40~ miles, but of course 20 of those are under the English Channel.  Those automobiles travel at 99mph through the tunnel.  Several trains do this per hour during peak travel times. 

 

I doubt many people would do it for Cincinnati>Columbus, but that Cincinnati>Cleveland or Cincinnati>Chicago distance seems like a distance where people would be happy to keep the miles off their automobiles.  And obviously for business travel, cargo vans, etc., it opens a lot of possibilities. 

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Most of the auto trains that operate, operated or were proposed to operate in this country were long distance. The reason is the labor and time involved in loading/unloading vehicles. The only auto train that operates now is from Lorton, Virginia (outside DC) to Sanford, Florida (outside Orlando). Amtrak took that over in 1983 from a private company called Auto Train that went bankrupt after a couple of derailments in the late 1970s. That was when many mainline tracks were in very bad condition. In addition to the Lorton-Sanford run, the private sector Auto Train also had a route from Louisville, Kentucky to Sanford. There have been short-lived plans to restart that route, or have it start farther north in Toledo. There also have been rumblings about an auto train from the Chicago area to the West Coast, with LA as the destination discussed most often. No enroute vehicle loading/unloading sites were ever seriously considered in these services. The only stops along the route that were considered were servicing the train (ie: refueling the locomotives, replenishing water for the passenger cars, and pumping out the sewage tanks).


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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The Channel Tunnel does an auto train for a distance of just 40~ miles, but of course 20 of those are under the English Channel.  Those automobiles travel at 99mph through the tunnel.  Several trains do this per hour during peak travel times. 

 

I doubt many people would do it for Cincinnati>Columbus, but that Cincinnati>Cleveland or Cincinnati>Chicago distance seems like a distance where people would be happy to keep the miles off their automobiles.  And obviously for business travel, cargo vans, etc., it opens a lot of possibilities. 

 

We've discussed this in here earlier, and I suspect it would work especially if people had access to their cars en route.  One of the biggest drawbacks of air travel is having to get to the airport and find transportation at the other end.  There's a radius where on a door to door basis, flying takes as long as driving or longer, and for Cleveland Chicago is inside it.  So is Washington DC.

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^Yeah, I used to fly to LA until I realized driving from the Bay didn't take much longer when I timed my drive to avoid peak traffic conditions. Leaving San Francisco-Oakland at 2pm can get you to Hollywood or DTLA at around 8pm, thus avoiding most of the traffic jams in California. It's a 360 to 400 mile drive depending on where you're going in LA, but it honestly is better than flying. When you add up the time it takes to get to SFO/OAK, do TSA check-in, check baggage if needed, and get from LAX to other parts of LA, you're not saving much time by flying. There also is no need to rent a car if you drive your own. For business travelers, the mileage makes sense since the rates were set for higher gas prices. You make a little money off mileage on older, gas efficient cars. Since gas prices tanked, that little "bonus" is stronger. You could even drive an F-150 from Oakland to Long Beach and make money...

 

I'd say if something is within a 6-hour drive time, it makes more sense to drive, particularly if you were planning to rent a car anyway. Flying only makes sense on longer haul routes. I fly to Portland and Vegas, but not LA anymore. I'd also fly to San Diego too if needed since I'd have to drive across the entire LA metro area (playing with fire). I'm amazed there is still a puddle jumper market in Northeast and Great Lakes cities...

 

What's really crazy is when people fly from New York City to Boston! Hello, there is a perfectly good train to take!

 

All of the Great Lakes and Northeastern cities should be connected by high-speed rail. Between Chicago and New York City, you've got a ton of major cities close together. This also extends into Ontario and Quebec. I'm sure the airlines are fighting hard against this...

 

The Amtrak route along Lake Erie should certainly be high-speed rail. Almost everybody from Toledo and Cleveland would take that to Chicago. You don't need a car in Chicago.

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^Yeah, I used to fly to LA until I realized driving from the Bay didn't take much longer when I timed my drive to avoid peak traffic conditions. Leaving San Francisco-Oakland at 2pm can get you to Hollywood or DTLA at around 8pm, thus avoiding most of the traffic jams in California. It's a 360 to 400 mile drive depending on where you're going in LA, but it honestly is better than flying. When you add up the time it takes to get to SFO/OAK, do TSA check-in, check baggage if needed, and get from LAX to other parts of LA, you're not saving much time by flying. There also is no need to rent a car if you drive your own. For business travelers, the mileage makes sense since the rates were set for higher gas prices. You make a little money off mileage on older, gas efficient cars. Since gas prices tanked, that little "bonus" is stronger. You could even drive an F-150 from Oakland to Long Beach and make money...

 

I'd say if something is within a 6-hour drive time, it makes more sense to drive, particularly if you were planning to rent a car anyway. Flying only makes sense on longer haul routes. I fly to Portland and Vegas, but not LA anymore. I'd also fly to San Diego too if needed since I'd have to drive across the entire LA metro area (playing with fire). I'm amazed there is still a puddle jumper market in Northeast and Great Lakes cities...

 

What's really crazy is when people fly from New York City to Boston! Hello, there is a perfectly good train to take!

 

All of the Great Lakes and Northeastern cities should be connected by high-speed rail. Between Chicago and New York City, you've got a ton of major cities close together. This also extends into Ontario and Quebec. I'm sure the airlines are fighting hard against this...

 

The Amtrak route along Lake Erie should certainly be high-speed rail. Almost everybody from Toledo and Cleveland would take that to Chicago. You don't need a car in Chicago.

 

Not that long ago TSA was trying to inflict on trains what they've done to planes, which of course benefits automobiles.  Especially considering packing and unpacking, and one still must get to station and from the arrival station to wherever it is you're going.  So it depends on the latter two, in many cases.

 

You may not need a car in Chicago proper, but in "Chicagoland" most often you do.  Plus, though I haven't been there for awhile, the last time I was cabs within the city were strictly regulated and therefore expensive.

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One-fourth of 3C may be downgraded

kjprendergast on April 13, 2016

 

All Aboard Ohio has learned from multiple sources that CSX may downgrade its 60-mile Galion-Columbus section (called the Columbus Line Subdivision) of the Cleveland-Columbus-Dayton-Cincinnati (3C) Corridor as early as this year. This represents nearly one-fourth of the total route-miles of the overall, 255-mile 3C Corridor.

 

Downgrading could include turning off and possibly removing the automatic block signal system and not maintaining the track to Class 4 standards (60 mph for freight, 80 mph for passenger). In time, these actions may result in the track on the Columbus Line Subdivision being re-classified as Class 2 track (25 mph for freight, 30 mph for passenger). CSX has yet to announce anything officially.

 

In anticipation of an announcement, the All Aboard Ohio Board of Directors on April 12 voted unanimously on a policy statement urging regional and state public agencies, authorities and commission “to maintain and preserve the 3C Corridor rail infrastructure in its current condition or better.”

 

MORE:

http://allaboardohio.org/2016/04/13/one-fourth-of-3c-may-be-downgraded/


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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Plus, though I haven't been there for awhile, the last time I was cabs within the city were strictly regulated and therefore expensive.[/color]

 

My experience has been the opposite. The cities with highly-regulated cabs (which also tend to be the cities where cabs are highly used) are the ones that tend to be the cheapest. I am always surprised by how cheap NYC cabs end up being. The most expensive city where I regularly took cabs was Detroit--as you can imagine, in an auto-dominated city, cab usage was quite low and therefore was expensive.

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Plus, though I haven't been there for awhile, the last time I was cabs within the city were strictly regulated and therefore expensive.[/color]

 

My experience has been the opposite. The cities with highly-regulated cabs (which also tend to be the cities where cabs are highly used) are the ones that tend to be the cheapest. I am always surprised by how cheap NYC cabs end up being. The most expensive city where I regularly took cabs was Detroit--as you can imagine, in an auto-dominated city, cab usage was quite low and therefore was expensive.

 

"Strictly regulated" meant the supply was regulated, so there was a lot of demand.  There were some cabs that could only serve suburban locations from the airport, with strict penalties if caught.  Classic crony-capitalist setup.  I've been exclusively driving there for at least twenty years so that could have changed.

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I apologize if this is repetitive (I haven't read the whole thread), but I once read that the Cleveland-Columbus portion of the 3C route was projected to be the most used and most economically viable. Was there ever any consideration given to operating this portion only?

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I apologize if this is repetitive (I haven't read the whole thread), but I once read that the Cleveland-Columbus portion of the 3C route was projected to be the most used and most economically viable. Was there ever any consideration given to operating this portion only?

 

There was -- in the late-1990s, early 2000s in response to the proposed widening of I-71 to three lanes in each direction. But the route performed even better in terms of ridership and cost-effectiveness when its endpoints were in Cincinnati and Cleveland. And even more importantly, the 3C Corridor would perform still better if there were trains to Chicago, Detroit, Toronto, Pittsburgh and beyond to/from some or all of the 3C's.


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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Thanks for the insight, KJP. My thought was the price tag for just Cleveland-Columbus might not have been as scary as that for Cleveland-Cincinnati.  I live in a one-city state (Maryland); perhaps in Ohio you have to please all three C's to get anything done.

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Sorry to jump in here, but I was just curious why the north central part of the 3C corridor route was chosen, rather than a different more eastern orientation from Columbus to Cleveland.  Does anyone know?

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Sorry to jump in here, but I was just curious why the north central part of the 3C corridor route was chosen, rather than a different more eastern orientation from Columbus to Cleveland.  Does anyone know?

 

No need to apologize. A few posts of mine way back in this thread (like in 2009-10) addressed the issue. I could only find the one below. I didn't mention one item -- that routing via Akron caused overall ridership projections to fall. The addition of Akron riders didn't make up for the loss of Cleveland riders, even though Cleveland would still be served. The Akron routing added about an hour to the Cleveland-Columbus trip...

 

Here is a more detailed map of the rail lines between the North Central Ohio area and Greater Cleveland:

 

Railmap-Akron3Crouting1.gif

 

Here's a larger image of the above:

http://members.cox.net/peepersken/Railmap-Akron3Crouting1.gif

 

The above map shows all current and former railroad lines (it doesn't show former electric interurbans which are displayed on updated versions of the SPV Railroad Atlas booklets). Solid lines represent currently (as of the mid-90s) intact or active railroad rights of ways. Dashed lines represent abandoned/removed railroad rights of way.

 

I have no doubts that using the former Erie Railroad mainline via Mansfield, Ashland and Akron, and then a mix of rail lines from there to downtown Cleveland makes sense -- especially for a high-speed rail service. Since segments of the Erie RR are either abandoned or used only for branch-line/industrial access services, when stitched back together they offer a largely freight-free rail corridor for fast passenger trains. But by the same argument, given the poor conditions of the Erie RR right of way, it's not suitable for a start-up level of service.

 

And if I'm going to run Cleveland - Columbus passenger trains via Canton, I'd route the trains through Newark, Coshocton, New Philadelphia. The tracks from Hudson south to Canton need serious improvements. Akron Metro RTA and CVSR have made a good start improving the tracks south of Akron for CVSR's low-speed tourist train to Canton. But if we're going to further improve this line, do it for high-speed rail (and ensure it has enough capacity for commuter rail). Besides, a 3C routing through both Mansfield and Canton starts to get pretty convoluted.


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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Sorry to jump in here, but I was just curious why the north central part of the 3C corridor route was chosen, rather than a different more eastern orientation from Columbus to Cleveland.  Does anyone know?

 

No need to apologize. A few posts of mine way back in this thread (like in 2009-10) addressed the issue. I could only find the one below. I didn't mention one item -- that routing via Akron caused overall ridership projections to fall. The addition of Akron riders didn't make up for the loss of Cleveland riders, even though Cleveland would still be served. The Akron routing added about an hour to the Cleveland-Columbus trip...

 

Here is a more detailed map of the rail lines between the North Central Ohio area and Greater Cleveland:

 

Railmap-Akron3Crouting1.gif

 

Here's a larger image of the above:

http://members.cox.net/peepersken/Railmap-Akron3Crouting1.gif

 

The above map shows all current and former railroad lines (it doesn't show former electric interurbans which are displayed on updated versions of the SPV Railroad Atlas booklets). Solid lines represent currently (as of the mid-90s) intact or active railroad rights of ways. Dashed lines represent abandoned/removed railroad rights of way.

 

I have no doubts that using the former Erie Railroad mainline via Mansfield, Ashland and Akron, and then a mix of rail lines from there to downtown Cleveland makes sense -- especially for a high-speed rail service. Since segments of the Erie RR are either abandoned or used only for branch-line/industrial access services, when stitched back together they offer a largely freight-free rail corridor for fast passenger trains. But by the same argument, given the poor conditions of the Erie RR right of way, it's not suitable for a start-up level of service.

 

And if I'm going to run Cleveland - Columbus passenger trains via Canton, I'd route the trains through Newark, Coshocton, New Philadelphia. The tracks from Hudson south to Canton need serious improvements. Akron Metro RTA and CVSR have made a good start improving the tracks south of Akron for CVSR's low-speed tourist train to Canton. But if we're going to further improve this line, do it for high-speed rail (and ensure it has enough capacity for commuter rail). Besides, a 3C routing through both Mansfield and Canton starts to get pretty convoluted.

 

Pittsburgh to Cbus via Ytown and Akron/Canton should be its own line.

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Thanks for the answer.  It's hard to tell from the maps.  It seemed like that part of the route wasn't getting close to even small downtowns like Mansfield and a more easternly orientation would service more small cities.  But I understand the access for ridership tradeoffs.

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Thanks for the answer.  It's hard to tell from the maps.  It seemed like that part of the route wasn't getting close to even small downtowns like Mansfield and a more easternly orientation would service more small cities and high profile liberal arts colleges.  But I understand the access for ridership tradeoffs.

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Grasping at straws here: Would there be any possibility of seasonal rail service among the three C's? Summer tourism might make something possible, especially as Cleveland and Cincinnati add more international air routes. It could allow European visitors to see three cities - fly into CLE, go home from CVG (or the opposite), and visit Columbus by rail - perhaps a special train a couple times a week?

 

I doubt AMTRAK would be interested, but might anyone? Some Ohio tourist agency?

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Due to the fixed-cost nature of rail it is harder to justify a seasonal service. Say NS requires a passenger siding of $10 million for regular service (for example). It is a lot easier to spread that cost over 365 trains per year (or more) than 20 trains over the course of the summer.

 

The other big issue you will run into with a non-Amtrak operator is insurance. I have heard Iowa Pacific was required to provide a $200 million dollar liability policy to operate the Hoosier State (using Amtrak crews). This is why a lot of seasonal excursion trips like the New River Train are run as Amtrak charters.

 

Anything is possible with enough time and money, but it would be a challenge. I could see maybe a special event Amtrak charter, or an annual train at best, but I think anything beyond that would start running into the roadblocks above.

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In the USA, the owner of a railroad right of way has exclusive rights to use that right of way. So, usually the right of way owners runs their own trains over it. Could you imagine "The Greyhound Highway" or the "United Airlines Airport"? The owner has the right to refuse or negotiate with others seeking to use the right of way -- and they usually do refuse access primarily because they just want to run their own trains to meet their preferred customers' needs. Another carrier seeking trackage rights has to run their train on a schedule that doesn't interfere with existing train schedules designed around the shipping needs of existing customers. And because the railroads have eliminated so much parallel railroad infrastructure to concentrate so much traffic on so few lines to boost Wall Street-desired profit margins and cost-of-capital requirements of private lenders, it can be difficult if not impossible add more trains without negatively impacting existing rail customers, or having to add more infrastructure capacity, or having to run new trains on a very slow schedule.

 

The 3C corridor tracks are owned primarily by CSX Transportation Inc. north of Columbus and Norfolk Southern Corp. south of Columbus. Unlike publicly owned airports or highways, there is no open access. And unlike airports or highways, the owners of railroad rights of way are responsible for liability issues. So any request to right of way-owning railroads will come with a stiff price for liability insurance -- and the rates are higher for passenger trains than freight trains for what I hope are obvious reasons. The last I'd heard, a prospective passenger rail operator seeking to run trains on a privately owned railroad right of way typically has to carry about $500 million in liability insurance coverage. For a passenger rail service, whether one train a week is being offered or 50, the premiums for such a policy cost about $2 million per year. Amtrak and a few private commuter rail service contractors carry that much liability insurance.


"Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities."-Voltaire

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Grasping at straws here: Would there be any possibility of seasonal rail service among the three C's? Summer tourism might make something possible, especially as Cleveland and Cincinnati add more international air routes. It could allow European visitors to see three cities - fly into CLE, go home from CVG (or the opposite), and visit Columbus by rail - perhaps a special train a couple times a week?

 

I doubt AMTRAK would be interested, but might anyone? Some Ohio tourist agency?

 

Not a bad idea.

 

However, I think running rail in the winter months would see some great value as well. One thing Ohioans do not enjoy is driving longer than they have to with snow on the ground. I would assume 9/10 Ohioans would prefer to take a train from Cincinnati to Cleveland during a snowstorm than I-71.

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Ok, so I guess it's essentially hopeless.  The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia floated the idea of running a private train from Washington, but nothing ever came of it - probably for all the reasons mentioned.

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you could vote for Bill O'Neill

 

http://www.billforohio.com/the-oneill-plan-for-ohio/

 

 

High Speed Rail

[/size]Finally, I want to talk about transportation. Thirty years ago there was a feasibility study that demonstrated the economic viability of a 200 mph high speed electric train system from Cleveland to Columbus and down on to Cincinnati.  It was going to be funded by a bond issue.  Instead we built a third lane on Interstate 71.

[/size]If they can build it in China, France, Spain and California, there is no reason it cannot be done in Ohio. Let’s put Ohioans back to work, and build a fast, reliable rail network that will strengthen our transportation system, protect our environment, and make Ohio more attractive to big business.

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Ok, so I guess it's essentially hopeless.  The Greenbrier Hotel in West Virginia floated the idea of running a private train from Washington, but nothing ever came of it - probably for all the reasons mentioned.

 

Well, not that we know of ;-)

  • Haha 1

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