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Chicago-Columbus Passenger Rail Studied

The Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association released the feasibility study and business plan of a potential connection for passenger rail between Columbus and Chicago.

It is important to note that there is not currently a straight highway from Columbus to Chicago as this new train route would provide.  The rail service would dramatically decrease the travel time between Columbus and Chicago in all transportation modes except air.  According to All Aboard Ohio, Columbus is the largest city in America without access to passenger rail.  The report indicates that private companies may want to invest in the project that will be 80% funded by the federal government.  This could mean that the states will not have to put much money into the project.

Below are some of the benefits of the proposed rail line:

  • 12,000 temporary jobs and 26,800 permanent jobs resulting from  this project;
  • Generate $7.1 billion in increased output for the region’s businesses;
  • Generate $6 billion worth of direct user benefits over the 30-year life of the project;
  • Start-up costs estimated at $4 million per mile vs. 10 times that for Interstate highway construction;
  • For every $1 invested in this project, an economic return of $1.70 is forecast.
  • 2.1 million riders in 2020, rising to 3.3 million by 2040, with 79% of riders diverted from cars;
  • Reduced emissions, traffic and dependence on expensive fuel; and
  • Rail fares set at 2/3 that of air fares will generate annual farebox revenue of $116 million in 2020 rising to $190 million by 2040.

Columbus gave $15,000 in the budget to help pay for the feasibility study.  The next step in the process is to conduct an EIA, known as an Environmental Impact Assessment.  The EIA will most likely be commissioned to a private firm that the states agree upon and will take a year or two to accomplish when the appropriated funds get approved which could cost a couple million of dollars.

The Columbus Dispatch reported on the rail line 7/17/2013.