In case you’re wondering about the acronyms in the title, PIRG is the Public Interest Research Group, in this case the Illinois Public Interest Research Group. MWHSR is Midwest High Speed Rail.
Since the 3C Corridor in Ohio seems to have become a partisan issue, I thought it was worth noting that a group without political ties sees huge benefits of constructing the regional system. The 3C line is an important part of the regional system, especially to Columbus. Here’s what they have to say about Ohio in the full report:
Ohio is currently served by two east-west passenger rail lines—the Lake Shore Limited route along the state’s northern tier, linking Cleveland and Toledo to Chicago, Buffalo and Pittsburgh—and a second through Cincinnati and southwestern Ohio. However, there is currently no passenger rail line that links Ohio’s three biggest cities—Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati—and the level of service on existing passenger rail lines fails to take advantage of Ohio’s potential as the gateway from the Midwest to the East.
The first step to building the Ohio passenger rail hub is the reconnecting of the state’s major cities by rail. Ohio’s three largest cities—Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland—are arrayed in a line across the state, each under 150 miles apart from the next. Ohio’s priority is to connect these cities with each other with a new passenger rail service, the “3C” line. The line would then connect with the Midwest regional rail system in Cleveland and Cincinnati, and to other planned regional passenger rail networks.80
The full plan for Ohio’s 3C rail line would have eight daily round trips between Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland, stopping in between in cities such as Dayton and Springfield. Traveling from one end of the line to the other would take about three and a half hours, faster than car travel, and would be cheaper than flying.81 Ohio has received $400 million of ARRA funding to get trains running quickly, with four round trips a day going at top speeds of 79 mph by 2012.82 This first stage is projected to attract 478,000 passengers a year, reducing car traffic on Ohio’s highways by nearly 320,000 vehicle miles of travel and potentially saving up to 15,000 gallons of fuel a day.83
In time, this new rail corridor can be connected to improved Chicago service at both ends of the line. Indiana has proposed a plan to connect Chicago and Cleveland with 110 mph service, and though that proposal was not funded in the most recent round of Recovery Act funding, it remains a strong candidate for future investment.84 The Midwestern states’ full plan for rail also calls for connecting Chicago and Cincinnati with a high-speed line across Indiana. Ohio is also just beginning to study the possibility of building a line to provide 110 mph service from Detroit to Toledo and on to Columbus.85
More than any other state in the Midwestern rail system, Ohio has the potential to host further high-speed links to other regions. Cleveland sits about two hours from Detroit, Buffalo and Pittsburgh. Buffalo and Pittsburgh are candidates for high-speed rail construction as part of a Northeastern network.86 Building these links would make Cleveland a critical crossroads in an inter-regional network, and give Ohioans quick and convenient access to cities both on the Eastern seaboard and throughout the Midwest. By 2025, if these inter-regional connections are developed, the high-speed rail lines running to and from Cleveland could attract 3.2 million riders every year.87
It would also generate an enormous amount of economic activity. Building the main lines of the system, from Cleveland to Cincinnati, Toronto, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Buffalo, would boost the region’s economy enough to create 16,700 permanent jobs, generate more than $3 billion of development near stations, and increase annual average household income by $90. It would also save about 9.4 million gallons of fuel a year.88