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Amtrak & FRA Look at Long Distance Routes

- How AAO Members Can Help -

While All Aboard Ohio supports the rail corridors that have been nominated by the State of Ohio and two of our largest regional planning organizations, we’re encouraged that Amtrak and the Federal Railroad Administration are seriously looking at increasing service on existing long-distance passenger rail routes. These include all three that now serve Ohio:

  • The Lake Shore Limited (daily)

  • The Capitol Limited (daily)

  • The Cardinal (thrice weekly)

The joint FRA/Amtrak Task Force is also looking at adding new routes, as reflected in their latest map (below).

Both AAO and the Railroad Passenger Association have long supported better long distance services. In fact, this joint Amtrak/FRA Task Force grew from efforts to make Amtrak’s “Cardinal” a daily train.

Developing a better national system of both long distance and corridor trains is what can get us to a major goal for both Ohio and the Great Lakes Region: passenger trains that are not just faster, but service that is frequent, timely and reliable. Service like this is what grows ridership and increases the positive climate benefits of passenger rail by creating viable options to driving.

The Long Distance Task Force recently met in Cleveland, hearing testimony from the Ohio Rail Development Commission, Northeast Ohio Area Coordinating Agency (NOACA) and the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

This stage of the Task Force Work is at the half-way point. There will be further meetings in the Winter and Spring. So, there’s still time for all of us to make comments at the Task Force web page. AAO urges you to sign up and share your thoughts at:

(Scroll to the bottom of the page to the comments form)

Many of us, as advocates, have been justifiably skeptical in the past about Amtrak’s commitment to its National network, but with federal funding for passenger rail service now at historic levels, Amtrak had the following statement delivered at all of the regional meetings:

“At Amtrak, we believe the long distance and overnight trains are the foundation of our National Network. They are vital to many communities throughout the United States, where in many cases they are the only intercity public transportation service. Long distance trains also serve many passengers for whom flying or driving is not an option. “We want to strengthen and enhance our network. That is why we are moving quickly to use federal funding to refresh and then replace the long distance fleet and to seek federal grants to improve infrastructure to reduce trip times and to provide additional frequencies to serve more people. The grant applications reiterate our commitment to improving service for all Amtrak customers, from small, rural towns to major metropolitan areas. “We are an active participant in the FRA’s LDSS process and look forward to seeing the results of the study. If the FRA’s study recommends expanding the long distance network, it will require significant federal funding for infrastructure improvements, fleet and ongoing operating support. We stand ready to work with the FRA and Congress to identify available resources and to determine how to bring more trains to more people.”

All Aboard Ohio has commented to the FRA and Amtrak on both corridor and long distance services. But we need you to “Tell Your Story” about why more and better passenger rail is important to you. That’s a message that’s also important for your state and federal legislators to hear and understand.

You can do this through All Aboard Ohio’s web page at:

For the first time in many years, we have increased reason to step up and speak out. Let’s not miss this opportunity.

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