Chicago-Columbus High Speed Rail Line Eyed

A consultant’s report estimates that a high-speed rail link between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio, via Fort Wayne, Ind., would cost $1.6 billion but create more than 26,000 fulltime jobs.

The report was prepared for the State of Indiana at a cost of $80,000.

The report estimated that for each dollar invested, the region would receive $1.70 in direct benefits, resulting in $700 million in additional household income across the 11-city corridor.

The feasibility study estimates service starting with 12 daily trains traveling a maximum speed of 110 mph could make the 300-mile Chicago-Columbus trip in four hours. At speeds of up to 130 mph, the trip time would drop to 3 hours, 20 minutes for express trains.

The federal government would pay for 80 percent of the development cost of the corridor with the remaining cost split between Ohio and Indiana.

If current Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, the Indiana Department of Transportation and the Federal Railroad Administration accept the report, economic and environmental impact reviews would come next, followed by preliminary engineering. The earliest construction would begin is 2016.

Columbus is among the largest cities in the nation without Amtrak rail service. Ohio’s capital city lost intercity rail service in 1979 when Amtrak’s National Limited was discontinued between New York and Kansas City. Service between Columbus and Chicago ended in the 1960s.

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