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Expanding Passenger Rail in Ohio: A Step Toward Connectivity

Columbus, One of America's Largest Cities Without Passenger Trains

In 2021, Congress directed the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to study potential restored and new "long-distance" routes. The goal? To create a true national network that serves both large and small communities across the country. As part of this study, the FRA has proposed adding 15 long-distance routes, serving 61 additional metropolitan areas. This is a significant step forward, especially for cities like Columbus, Ohio.

The Columbus Conundrum 

Columbus is one of the biggest cities in America without passenger trains. While our rural communities have long yearned for better rail access, our major cities—Columbus included—have also been in need. The last passenger train rolled through Columbus back in 1979. Imagine the possibilities if we could change that!

Routes to Reconnect 

The FRA's proposed routes offer hope for reconnecting Columbus with other major cities across the nation. Let's take a closer look at two key routes:

1. Dallas to New York via Cincinnati, Dayton, and Columbus: This ambitious route would link the heart of Texas with the bustling metropolis of New York City. Imagine boarding a train in Dallas and arriving in the Big Apple without ever stepping foot on an airplane. Along the way, passengers would pass through Cincinnati, Dayton, and—of course—Columbus. 

2. Detroit to New Orleans via Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati: This route would connect the Motor City with the vibrant culture of New Orleans. Picture yourself enjoying jazz music in the French Quarter after a scenic journey through Ohio. Toledo, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati would all play pivotal roles in making this route a reality.

The Need for Speed (and Frequency) 

While these proposed routes are exciting, we must demand more than just connectivity—we need speed and frequency too! The study assumes that new routes will match the performance level of existing long-distance routes: just one train a day with average speeds of around 45 mph. But this won't cut it! We should aim for faster trains running at 80 mph, like those on certain routes out of Chicago, as much as possible to achieve an average speed of 60 mph or better. And let's not settle for one train; we need 2 or 3 trains a day to make rail service truly useful.

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