It has been many, many decades since Richland County enjoyed passenger rail service that connected to other parts of the country.
And, while proposals have been advanced over the years for the possibility of such service along the old “Big Four” line between Cleveland and Columbus, with possible stops in Shelby and/or Galion, those plans have not met with sufficient political and financial support to see them advance past a planning stage.
A new voice is now joining in that proposal.
The National Rail Passenger Corporation, doing business as Amtrak, has unveiled what it has termed its “Amtrak System 2035” plan. The proposal, shared by the Rail Passengers Association, is focused on enhancing the country’s rail system within the next 15 years.
The price tag is substantial — $25 billion — however company officials point to the fact that Amtrak actually turned a corner in 2020 and enjoyed its first financially positive year in its 49 years of history.
Another key focus is a move away from long haul rail operations and lines in favor of shorter trips that can draw in connecting passengers from more cities.
Speaking of more cities, the proposal (see map below) includes connecting Columbus to the network. In specific, maps included in the proposal have the Cleveland-Columbus-Cincinnati line included, which would likely run through Richland County. The potential quality of life benefits for such a line would be hard to quantify.
The line would be part of the new Midwest Network, which is envisioned as nearly covering its operating costs under the proposal’s financial forecasts.
It is known that Joe Biden, projected by national networks on Saturday to become the next President of the United States, is a supporter of rail. He has stated previously that a regional rail network could actually shift some airport traffic to passenger rail.
The photo above is of the Observation Car on the California Zephyr,which runs between Chicago and San Francisco.
Sources: Amtrak, Rail Passengers Association