Posts Tagged ‘Cincinnati’

Cincinnati RR Club to Consider Move to Tower A at CUT

August 21, 2021

The board of directors of the Cincinnati Railroad Club board will meet on Aug. 26 to discuss a proposal to resume meeting at Cincinnati Union Terminal’s Tower A.

The offer was made by the Cincinnati Museum Center, which operates the venerable train station.

The membership of the club will hear a report on the Tower A proposal when the club meets on Sept. 2.

Officers will present an overview of the club’s options and the board’s views of them.

Rather than have a program that night club members in attendance will be given time to share their thoughts.

The Sept. 2 meeting will be held at the Archbishop’s House in Norwood. The September meeting will also be available via Zoom.

Amtrak Says 3C+D Could Start in 2 Years

May 20, 2021

Amtrak service between Cleveland and Cincinnati via Columbus and Dayton could be up and running in as little as two years, company executives said this week.

Amtrak Chairman William Flynn and President Steven Gardner joined several Ohio elected and civic officials in an online roundtable designed to build support for the proposed service.

However, getting the service out of the station hinges on Congress appropriating the billions the passenger carrier is seeking to develop a series of new corridors across the country.

Gardner also noted that Amtrak needs to negotiate agreements with the host railroads whose tracks it will use on the 250-mile route.

“We believe we could start initial service, maybe one round-trip or a few, without much initial investment, using current track speeds,” Gardner said. “We believe we could get started here in hopefully what would be a relatively short period of a couple of years.”

In the meantime, what was once called the 3C corridor is now being branded as the 3C+D route to include Dayton in the nomenclature.

Garnder said the length of the route is is the sweet spot for successful intercity passenger rail service.

“This service is the type of service we should have for major cities, and for an important state like Ohio,” he said. “Frankly, it should have happened a long time ago.”

The 3C+D corridor is part of an ambitious plan by Amtrak to expand intercity service.

Aside from the Cleveland-Cincinnati route, Amtrak has proposed creating additional service on existing routes through Cleveland to Detroit and Buffalo.

The passenger carrier would front the money to be used for capital costs to develop the routes and initially pay the operating costs of the trains.

But state and local governments would be expected to assume operating costs on a sliding scale with Amtrak’s share declining until states would pay all of the operating costs.

Although the proposed 3C+D service received endorsements from various mayors who joined the call, Ohio Gov. Michael DeWine has been noncommittal about it.

Last month DeWine said he was reserving judgment on the plan until he could learn more about it, including its potential cost to the state.

Although neither DeWine nor a representative of the Ohio Department of Transportation participated in this week’s online roundtable, Gardner said Amtrak is “anxious to work with the state to look at what that partnership could be and put together a model that makes sense for Ohio.”

During the roundtable, Amtrak said the3C+D route would have stations in Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati as well as at Cleveland Hopkins International Airport, Crestline, Delaware, Springfield and Sharonville.

Service is expected to be three round-trips per day with additional trips being added as ridership grows.

The route is expected to draw as many as 500,000 passengers annually and provide an economic impact of $130 million.

The Cleveland-Cincinnati travel time would be about 5.5 hours, but track improvements could cut that to 4 hours and 55 minutes.

Gardner said that a train does not need to be faster than car travel, but does need to be competitive. “The time on the train is productive time, which is not the same as driving time,” he said. “You can work, you can have access to wi-fi, you can socialize, you can walk around. It’s a much more comfortable and productive method,” he said.

Cleveland has the most current Amtrak service of the cities in the 3C+D corridor being served by the Chicago-Washington Capitol Limited and the Chicago-New York/Boston Lake Shore Limited.

Trains on both of those routes, though are scheduled to pass through Cleveland between midnight and 6 a.m.

Cincinnati has a similar situation with the Chicago-New York Cardinal. Dayton and Columbus have lacked Amtrak service since the Oct. 1, 1979, discontinuance of the New York-Kansas City National Limited.

Cleveland Mayor Frank Jackson was one of the participants in the roundtable and gave the 3C+D a hearty endorsement.

“We simply don’t have the luxury of choosing not to do this,” he said. “It is about positioning Ohio for the future. It’s not a question of rural or urban or suburban or Democrat or Republican. It’s about do we as Ohioans want to be competitive in the world, in this nation?”

Also participating in the roundtable were Dayton Mayor Nan Whaley; Crestline Mayor Linda Horning-Pitt, and William Murdock, the executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission.

Columbus is the second-largest metro area in the country without Amtrak service. Phoenix is the largest. 

“Not being in that network puts us at a disadvantage,” Murdock said. 

“Businesses and residents are clamoring for this,” he said. “We know the community is behind it. Investing in Ohio, it makes a lot of sense. It’s grounded not just in major cities, it’s really important to rural areas and smaller metros.”

Murdock said when young people arrive in Columbus one of the first questions they ask is, “Where’s the train stop?”

MORPC released 30 letters of support from community leaders who want expanded Amtrak service in Ohio.

Some of the funding Amtrak hopes to land to develop the 3C+D route would come from the $80 billion earmarked for Amtrak by President Joseph Biden’s $2 trillion infrastructure proposal.

However, other funding would be contained in a surface transportation bill Congress is expected to take up later this year.

That bill, though, would merely authorize spending. Other legislation would need to be adopted to appropriate federal funding for Amtrak expansion.

The 3C corridor has been the subject of numerous studies and failed attempts to launch service.

The most recent occurred 11 years ago when the state received a $400 million grant to start the route.

However, John Kasich campaigned for governor on a pledge to refuse the funding, which he made good on after being elected in 2010.

Before that ODOT proposed a Cleveland-Columbus service during a rebuilding of Interstate 71. That also failed to launch.

During the roundtable, Amtrak CEO Flynn said the carrier has spent the past three years developing a strategy to expand service.

Known as Connect US, the expansion would touch up to 160 communities in 25 states on more than 30 routes It would be developed over the next 15 years.

Also included in the proposal is additional service between Cincinnati and Chicago via Indianapolis. That route would have an extension from Indianapolis to Louisville, Kentucky.

Although not part of the Amtrak Connect US network, studies are underway of a route between Chicago and Pittsburgh via Columbus.

Although no ODOT officials joined this week’s roundtable, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said the passenger carrier has spoken with ODOT and Ohio Rail Development Commission members.

Gardner acknowledged said that much work needs to be done to bring the 3C+D service to fruition.

“These are not insurmountable challenges,” he said.

Rail Events Planned for Cincinnati Area

April 12, 2021

Various railroad related events are being planned for the Cincinnati area this spring.

These include resumption of service of the Cincinnati Dinner Train. Tickets can be purchased and other information is available at https://www.cincinnatidinnertrain.com/

The Cincinnati Railroad Club will participate in a National Train Day event on May 1.

CRRC board member Jim Corbett said the Lebanon Mason Monroe Railroad has invited the club to set up a booth about/for the club.

Excursions that day will depart at trains departing at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.

On May 15, a restored Southern Railway steel caboose, X554, will be moved in a parade down Elm Street in Ludlow, Kentucky, to a location on city property next to the city’s rail viewing platform.

The Ludlow Railroad Heritage Museum is hosting the move to the location at 49 Elm St.

A ribbon cutting ceremony is planned for May 31 at the caboose. It will be the first time the caboose will be opened to the public.

The event will be held between 3 p.m. and 8 p.m. and has been dubbed “Party on the Plaza” by the Ludlow Heritage Museum.

There will be food and drink options and museum merchandise for sale including green tee shirts with an image of the caboose.

Cincinnati Street Still Closed by CSX Derailment

January 27, 2021

A Cincinnati street closed earlier this week due to a CSX derailment is expected to remain closed through Friday.

Gest Street, which passes beneath the Queensgate Yard complex, was closed after the derailment last Sunday.

Gest remains closed between Evans Street and Dalton Avenue while clean up crews remove the wreckage, which involved two locomotives and seven freight cars.

Railroad officials also said the bridge will need to be inspected before vehicular traffic can pass beneath it again.

CSX officials said that although the cause of the derailment remains under investigation, there is no indication that remote operation of one of the locomotive contributed to the derailment.

CSX Derails 7 Cars, Locomotive in Cincinnati

January 25, 2021

No injuries were reported after a CSX train derailed in Cincinnati early Sunday morning atop a bridge near Queensgate Yard.

The derailment caused a fuel leak of 1,000 gallons of diesel fuel and left seven cars piled up on the bridge over Gest Street.

A portion of the yard was closed due to the leak. The derailment was reported to have occurred about 1:30 a.m.

CSX said in a statement that the leak came from a locomotive and no rail cars leaked or spilled any of their contents.

Cincinnati’s Metropolitan Sewer District activated the Millcreek Dam as a precautionary measure to prevent any of the spilled fuel from flowing into the Ohio River.

The CSX statement said no waterways were adversely affected and the fuel spill had been contained.

Gest Street was closed between Dalton Avenue and Evans Street but was expected to reopen Sunday night.

An on line report said the derailment cut off access to CSX’s Indiana Subdivision as well as traffic moving on the Central Railroad of Indiana.

That report said much of the wreckage had since been cleared from the bridge by Sunday afternoon.

A CSX spokesman told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the locomotive working the train was a remote control unit.

The derailment also took down several power lines in the area.

Railroad History Hike Set in Cincinnati for Nov. 21

November 6, 2020

A railroad history hike will be held Nov. 21 in Cincinnati.

The free event will take place between 1 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. in the California Woods Nature Preserve and involve walking a trail that once hosted a narrow gauge short line railroad.

The Cincinnati, Georgetown & Portsmouth was built as a narrow gauge line in the 1880s and later converted to standard gauge and was electrified.

Known for its steep grades and numerous curves, it was abandoned in 1936.

Registration is required to participate in the hike, which includes commentary by docents, and can be done at https://explorenature.regfox.com/railroadhistoryhike

Customer Service Reps Placed in Charleston, Cincinnati

October 29, 2020

Amtrak has placed customer service representatives in its stations in Charleston, West Virginia, and Cincinnati to assist passengers booking trips and boarding the Chicago-New York Cardinal.

In a service advisory, Amtrak said that the station waiting room in Charleston has been relocated to a trailer due to construction to make the station compliant with ADA standards.

The interim facility will be open for passengers at all train times as will be the station in Cincinnati.

Passengers will be unable to buy tickets with cash but must use a credit card, reloadable credit or debit card, or an Amtrak gift card.

Another One From Cincinnati

September 3, 2020

It is either 1969 or 1970 in Cincinnati where Cincinnati Union Terminal No. 24, a Lima 750 horsepower switcher, is in storage along with some sister units. You can tell what part of Ohio someone is from if you ask them to describe the initials CUT. It could be Cincinnati Union Terminal or it could be Cleveland Union Terminal.

Photograph by Robert Farkas

Cincinnati Streetcar to Resume Carrying Passengers

August 8, 2020

The Cincinnati streetcar line is expected to resume carrying passengers in late August with rides being free.

The reopening was made possible after the Cincinnati City Council voted 6-3 in favor of a plan to resume service, which was suspended in late March during the depths of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The reopening will come despite the opposition of Cincinnati Mayor John Cranley, who wants the streetcar line to remain closed.

Cranley, who has long opposed the streetcar, described it as a luxury the city cannot afford, particularly at a time when it has had to borrow $10 million to balance its budget.

The council vote overrode a veto that Cranley issued on a funding plan that will divert $1.8 million from the city’s transit fund to pay for operating the streetcar.

That fund is largely used to fund public transit bus service provided by the Southwest Ohio Regional Transit Authority.

The city is currently spending $3 million to periodically operate streetcars without passengers in order to maintain the functionality of the streetcar infrastructure.

“We’re not even discussing whether to fund or defund the streetcar, we’re discussing today whether we’re going to use $3 million to run an empty streetcar — which from my vantage point is fiscally irresponsible,” said council member Jeff Pastor.

“Or we’re going to fully run the streetcar so that people can get around in Over-the-Rhine as it was intended to do.”

That prompted Cranley to ask who was going to ride the streetcar in the middle of a pandemic.

“And is that more important than finding addition dollars for bus riders?” he said.

Cranley argued that for every month the streetcar is closed the city saves money.

The council vote to reopen the streetcar will mean that 19 furloughed employees will be recalled to work.

The streetcar line connects downtown Cincinnati with the Over-The-Rhine neighborhood over a 4-mile loop. It opened in September 2016.

Mayor Wants to Keep Cincy Street Car Line Closed

June 15, 2020

Cincinnati’s mayor is recommending that the city streetcar line remain closed during the next fiscal year.

The streetcar line last carried passengers on March 30. At the time officials said that was due to the difficulty of sanitizing the five cars used on the line.

However, Cincinnati Metro buses have continued to operate during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some supporters of the streetcar suspect that lingering antagonistic city officials are behind the move to shut down the streetcar line for the next fiscal year, which begins July 1, as a backdoor way to kill it.

City council member David Mann, chairman of the budget committee, said he hopes the streetcar resumes operation eventually but said the city has other pressing needs.

“So, I would prefer we circle back around that question in a few weeks,” he said.

But transit supporter Derek Bauman argues there is no need to keep the 3.6-mile streetcar line closed and he fears the city administration wants to inflict harm on the system.

The longer it remains closed, some fear, the less likely that previous riders will use it again.

The Cincinnati Bell Connector opened in September 2016 between downtown and the Over the Rhine neighborhood.

The budget proposed by Mayor John Cranley would allocate $2.9 million to maintain the streetcar infrastructure for a year but passengers would not be allowed to board the occasional streetcar runs that would be made.

The current fiscal year budget for the streetcar line is $4.6 million.

In the next fiscal year the mayor wants to divert $2 million in parking meter revenue and fines that would have gone to the streetcar into the general fund.

The city expects parking revenue overall to drop in fiscal year 2021 due to the lingering effects of the pandemic combined with the economic recession.

Cranley long has been an opponent of the streetcar and tried to kill it in 2013.

Cincinnati received $45 million in funding from the Federal Transit Administration to pay for the $148 million streetcar line.

When the major sought to scrap the streetcar project seven years ago the FTA threatened to demand the city pay back what it had received.

The city council voted to overrule the mayor and the streetcar project was completed.

The Cranley administration argues that keeping the streetcar line in operable condition even though passengers are not allowed to ride would not be a violation of the FTA grant agreement, which requires Cincinnati to operate the streetcar line for 21 more years.

The proposes streetcar budget does not project receiving any revenue from streetcar fares, advertising or naming rights money from Cincinnati Bell.

It also assumes that operator Transdev will agree to take about half of the money owed to it under the contract, which is $1.8 million.

Some streetcar supporters have suggested resuming service with shorter hours of operation and using a surplus of $5 million in the city’s transit fund.

Bauman fears the city’s moves will damage its relationship with the FTA. Cincinnati is expected to seek millions in funding from the FTA to help construct a bus rapid transit line that voters approved last year.

“It’s outrageous,” Bauman said. “Why are we risking the possibility of hundreds of millions of dollars in federal grants for projects because of philosophical hatred for the project?”

The streetcar was the eighth-most ridden Metro transit route in 2019, with ridership increasing by 12 percent over the 2018 level.

During the first 11 weeks of 2020, ridership was up 18 percent although patronage has trailed initial projections used to justify building the line.

Some streetcar supporters have accused the city of mismanaging the handling of the streetcar network in its early months of operation, including failing to address cars and trucks blocking the streetcar.

They also say the city has yet to conduct a study of the economic effect of the streetcar project.

The Cincinnati Business Courier reported in 2016 that developers and building owners made $160 million in investments in 183 properties directly on the streetcar line.

A survey of property owners found 60 percent saying the streetcar was a factor in their decision to invest, accounting for $25 million of those dollars.

Council member Mann said the streetcar budget should be reviewed by the budget committee after it has completed its review of the overall city budget for the next fiscal year and he said he still favors having the streetcar line.

“I think there’s more pluses than minuses,” Mann said. “We’ve got the Haile Foundation money to protect. I think we’ll do a better job if we deal with the streetcar issues later.”