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Amtrak officials say state-supported routes are the fastest-growing part of the national intercity passenger railroad’s business. A couple of developments last month back up that statement. Two states requested the railroad conduct studies to determine the feasibility of adding passenger-rail service in their region.
Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland asked Amtrak to look into adding service between Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati. Amtrak will work with freight railroads that own the track to determine necessary capital improvements to launch passenger-rail service in the “3-C” corridor. The study will be divided in two parts: Cleveland to Columbus, and Columbus to Cincinnati.
The corridor would serve as the backbone of the “Ohio Hub,” the state’s long-term vision for revitalizing passenger-rail service. Currently, Amtrak operates two trains daily through Cleveland and three days a week through Cincinnati. The railroad hasn’t served Dayton and Columbus since 1979.
In addition, the Kansas Department of Transportation asked Amtrak to conduct a study to determine the feasibility of providing state-sponsored service between Kansas City, Mo., and Oklahoma City, via Newton, Kan.
Currently, Amtrak’s Southwest Chief provides service between Kansas City and Newton, and the Heartland Flyer operates daily between Fort Worth, Texas, and Oklahoma City.
To be funded by the Kansas Department of Transportation, the study will analyze a connection between the Southwest Chief and an extended Heartland Flyer at Newton, a further extension of the Heartland Flyer to Kansas City, or another new service. The route likely would include Wichita, which has not been served by Amtrak since the railroad discontinued Lone Star service in 1979. Amtrak will examine costs, schedules, stations, rail-car and locomotive availability, and potential travel delays due to freight traffic on the lines.
The railroad expects to begin the study in mid- to late summer and complete it by third-quarter 2009.