Passenger line between Chicago, Ohio to be studied


FORT WAYNE, Ind. (AP) — Federal rail and state transportation officials approved a process that could restore passenger rail service to Fort Wayne.

Fort Wayne City Councilman Geoff Paddock said the preliminary work looking into restarting service is expected to begin in January and end by fall. It’ll include a rough assessment of the engineering, technical aspects and the environmental impact of restarting regular passenger trips between Chicago and Columbus, Ohio.

The last passenger trains to serve the city ended in 1990, The Journal Gazette (http://bit.ly/2hn9CSW) reported.

According to Paddock, who served as a spokesman Monday for the Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association, the proposed service to Chicago would not replace Amtrak service that already stops in Waterloo but does go as far as Fort Wayne.

The new service would schedule the passenger trains on existing train tracks currently used for freight, said Paddock. Some existing stations would likely be used for the new service.

Stops on the route could include Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso and Gary in Indiana and Lima, Kenton and Marysville in Ohio.

The process is being paid for with $350,000 from municipalities along the route as well as businesses, educational institutions and community foundations. Public input meetings will also be part of the process.

Paddock said the potential start of at least limited service could be some time in 2020.

The service could essentially link 100 Midwest cities with train service through a network of rail lines now being visualized at the federal level.

“The return of passenger rail to Fort Wayne will be a huge boost for economic development in Fort Wayne and northeast Indiana,” Paddock said.

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Information from: The Journal Gazette, http://www.journalgazette.net