Posts Tagged ‘Dayton’

Dayton Rail Festival Canceled

May 30, 2021

The 2021 Carillon Park Rail and Steam Festival in Dayton has been cancelled.

An announcement of the cancellation cited “events beyond our control” but did not elaborate.

The event was to have been held Aug. 21-22 at Carillon Historical Park. The festival expects to return in 2022 on June 25-26.

The 2020 festival also was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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.

Sampling the NS Dayton District

March 8, 2020

The Dayton District of Norfolk Southern extends from Columbus in a generally southwestward direction to NA Tower (Ivorydale Junction) in Cincinnati.

The former New York Central line passes through Springfield and Dayton.

I had a chance on a recent Saturday to sample the Dayton District in its namesake city on leap day while being given a tour of the city’s railroads by Dayton native David Oroszi.

I’ve driven over the Dayton District numerous times over the years while traveling on Interstate 70 between Dayton and Columbus.

The interstate crosses just west and south of CP190, also known as CP Fairborn, where there is a passing siding at ends at the west end by Enon Road.

I once saw a westbound sitting there to meet an eastbound, but until this day that had been the extent of my “railfanning” of the Dayton District.

I rode over this line in the Conrail era aboard a chartered Amtrak train in September 1997 that operated between Cleveland and Cincinnati and was named the Ohio State Limited after the route’s one-time premier NYC passenger train.

If the 3C corridor ever gets off the drawing board passenger trains will travel the length of the Dayton District.

The Dayton District has around the same level of freight traffic as the CSX New Castle Subdivision in Northeast Ohio.

That means you can spend hours along it and not see anything.

In fact the Dayton District was quiet all morning on our day out. CSX, which comes through Dayton on a former Baltimore & Ohio route between Cincinnati and Toledo, wasn’t much busier.

Our goal was to catch eastbound train 198, which was being led by the 9-1-1 locomotive that pays tribute to first responders.

It would be the third consecutive day train 198 was led by a special interest unit. On Friday the 198 had the Reading heritage unit on the point and the day before that the lead locomotive had been the Conrail heritage unit.

We knew that photographing the 198 would be difficult because it would reach Dayton during the afternoon and be coming out of the sun.

It turned out to be a moot point, though, because the 198 never got out of Cincinnati before dark.

A source had told Dave that the crew that had been called for the 198 at Gest Street in Cincinnati was not qualified on the Dayton District so a new crew had to be called.

The first train we saw on the Dayton District was westbound manifest freight 179, which we captured downtown in early afternoon passing the historic Armory Building on Patterson Boulevard.

We shot it from street level as can be seen in the top photograph.

The Armory is now a professional office building whose signature tenant is a law firm.

For some reason the 179 slowed to a crawl as it was crossing the Great Miami River, which enabled us to get ahead of it and capture crossing the Miami River a second time at Miller’s Ford near Carllion Park (second photograph).

Then it was time to grab lunch to go at a Frisch’s Big Boy in Morraine.

We ate it while sitting next to the tracks just south of Main Street where we could keep an eye on a set of signals for eastbound traffic.

Our time there netted us a local, the L04 head for Dayton to drop off some loaded salt cars (third photo).

Dayton is a poster child for lost industry. Consequently NS has very little business in Dayton and most trains pass through without stopping.

During our drive around town Dave pointed out where the factories used to stand at which his father and his wife’s father once had worked.

After the local came by we headed south for Miamisburg where we hoped to catch the local on its return to Middletown. That caused us to miss an eastbound auto rack train.

We had not been in Miamisburg too long when a westbound manifest freight came rumbling through.

We never heard him calling signals over the radio and the faint radio call we did hear was indecipherable.

The former passenger station in Miamisburg is now a dental office and I used that to frame a photograph of the westbound (fourth photograph).

It was getting to be late afternoon when we heard the dispatcher give the local permission to open up to leave what remains of the former Erie Railroad yard in Dayton near Findlay Street and head west.

By now carrying symbol L10, we caught the lone locomotive and two short covered hopper cars with Wisconsin Central markings on the Great Miami River bridge at Miller’s Ford (fifth photograph).

Dave has made hundreds, if not thousands, of images of trains on this bridge over the decades and he hopes to someday make that collection the focus of a Summerail program.

A photo he made of a caboose hop with two F units and a geep crossing that bridge helps to illustrate an article about railroad mergers in the most recent issue of Classic Trains.

We were about to call it quits but on the drive back to Dave’s house checked some signals to see if anything was lined up. It wasn’t.

It had not been quite the day we had hoped for but it hadn’t been bad, either.

Such is life looking for photograph opportunities on a railroad line with modest traffic.

Dayton Trying to Buy NS ROW for Downtown Trail

February 19, 2020

Dayton and Norfolk Southern remain at loggerheads over the city’s desire to buy a section of unused right of way that would be used to create a hiking a biking trail.

The city wants to buy a 6.5-mile segment of elevated right of way between East Oregon and Kettering that would connect downtown Dayton with its eastern neighborhoods.

A major sticking point has been price with NS demanding more than the city is willing pay.

An appraiser hired by the city put the value of the property at $785,000 while appraisers hired by NS placed its value at $3.5 million.

The proposed Flight Line trail would provide panoramic views of the city, officials say.

“It’s a huge missing connection that would connect downtown Dayton to 300-plus miles of Miami Valley trails,” said Susan Vincent, a planner with the city of Dayton.

NS said in 2017 it intended to abandon the line in question and talks over the city buying the property have been ongoing since then.

City officials say the Flight Line trail would be similar to “high line” trails and parks in New York City and Chicago.

Some city leaders believe the trail could be a “transformational” project that improves access to neighborhoods and improves the quality of life in them.

A Dayton city attorney, John Musto, said the city is the only serious buyer for the property.

NS in the meantime has agreed to pause the abandonment process, which will prevent the property from being broken up and sold piecemeal.

The railroad also has offered a “phased acquisition” option to help with a purchase.

Dayton officials are considering seeking Clean Ohio Trailways funds to help fund the Flight Line.

Rail Festival Set in Dayton on June 23-24

June 11, 2018

The 13th annual Rail Festival at Carillon Park in Dayton will be held on June 23 and 24.

There will be live steam engines, historical exhibits, railroad collectables vendors, free miniature train rides and food vendors.

Carillon Park Rail & Steam Society operates a 1/8th scale railroad as a working, interactive exhibit of the Carillon Park Historical Museum. There is no charge for train rides during the festival.

Admission to the festival is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors (age 60 and above) and $5 for children ages 3 to 17. Children age 3 or younger are admitted for free.

The park is located at 1000 Carillon Boulevard. Further information is available at http://railfestival.com/

DePaul University Study Finds that Akron, Columbus, Dayton are Among Transportation ‘Pockets of Pain’

August 25, 2017

Columbus has been identified in a study as one of the nation’s most prominent “pockets of pain” when it comes to intercity public ground transportation.

The capital of Ohio ranks toward the top of the list because of its lack of Amtrak service and express bus service.

It was joined by another state capital, Phoenix, which also lacks Amtrak service. Also on the list are Akron and Dayton.

Amtrak’s New York-Kansas City National Limited halted in Columbus and Dayton for the last time on Oct. 1, 1979. Megabus pulled out of Columbus this past January.

The study was released by Chicago-based DePaul University’s Chaddick Institute for Metropolitan Development.

It focused on large cities that lack rail and express bus connections to other major cities. Cities outside Ohio that also made the list included Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Fort Myers, Florida.

“Columbus has been cursed in terms of ground transportation, largely because of geography,” said Joseph Schwieterman, co-author of the study and director of the Chaddick Institute. “It’s a little far from cities such as Chicago and Washington to make bus service a good success.”

Among the study’s findings:

  • Cleveland-to-Columbus is the fourth-busiest route (ones with the most point-to-point travel) in the country that lacks both intercity express bus service and rail service.
  • Chicago-to-Columbus is the seventh-busiest such route.

“The study validates what we already knew: The central Ohio region does have gaps in ground transportation options for passengers connecting to other regions,” said William Murdock, executive director of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission. “That is why we are working hard with our community partners across four states, including Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Pennsylvania.

“These efforts include a Columbus-to-Chicago passenger rail connection and the Midwest Connect Hyperloop Corridor (Pittsburgh to Chicago via Columbus), as well as (other) regional efforts.”

Last year, Columbus won the national Smart City Challenge and was awarded $40 million by the U.S. Department of Transportation and $10 million by Vulcan Inc. Another $90 million has been pledged by a Columbus public-private partnership, bringing the total to $140 million.

That funding was not intended to go toward development of conventional rail or bus intercity service. However, Schwieterman said the Smart City projects can only help.

“Innovation in urban areas could morph into providing true intercity service,” Schwieterman said. “It’s only a matter of time before services like Uber and Lyft start offering van service between cities, for example.”

He also believes the federal government should track ridership of private express bus services the way it does with airline passengers in order to better understand the demand on various routes.

Schwieterman would like to see local governments encourage bus service by helping companies establish convenient curbside stops and providing incentives to renovate bus stations.

“Some people will consider an express bus, but are resistant to taking Greyhound,” Schwieterman said. “It’s a culture change.”

To see the study, go to http://bit.ly/2xd2LEb

Cleveland Gains Flights at CAK’s Expense

January 7, 2017

As it turns out, Akron-Canton Airport’s loss will be Cleveland Hopkins Airport’s gain.

Cleveland HopkinsWhen Southwest operates to Akron-Canton for the final time on June 3, it will divert those flights to Hopkins the next day.

Southwest said on Thursday that it will launch on June 4 two Cleveland-Atlanta roundtrips and add an addition flight between Hopkins and St. Louis.

It will be Southwest’s first foray into the Cleveland-Atlanta market, which is also served by Delta Air Lines and Spirit Airlines. Southwest is the only carrier flying non-stop between Cleveland and St. Louis.

Southwest currently offers three roundtrips between Akron-Canton and Atlanta.

It is not the first time that Southwest has expanded in Ohio at the expense of Akron-Canton.

Flights that Southwest once operated between Akron-Canton and Boston were last year shifted to Columbus while a flight to Denver was shifted to Hopkins.

Also losing Southwest service will be Dayton, which will see its flights shifted to Cincinnati, which is currently not served by Southwest. Cincinnati will gain service to Baltimore and Chicago (Midway).

The route restructuring is part of a trend for Southwest to shift service away from small and mid-size airports in favor of hub markets in larger cities that analysts say offer more potential for profitability growth.

Dayton has seen Southwest play out the same script that has unfolded at Akron-Canton over the past year.

Southwest replaced AirTran at Dayton in August 2012 and once offered flights to Baltimore, Denver, Orlando, Tampa. But last year Southwest shifted its Dayton service to Chicago Midway Airport.

Dayton also lost Frontier Airlines in May 2013 and it later began service to Cincinnati. That mirrored what Frontier did in moving flights from Akron-Canton to Cleveland.

Some of the slack left by Frontier in Dayton was taken up by Allegiant Air in April 2016 when it began landing there.

Also providing service to Dayton are American, Delta, United Express and American Eagle.

The airport’s website notes that non-stop service is offered to 15 airports.