CRESTLINE — The Village of Crestline has been selected to be a stop on the proposed Amtrak passenger rail line that would connect Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati.
Derrick L. James, senior manager of government affairs for Amtrak, made that announcement during a press conference on Friday at Crestline Village Hall. He said over the past several years Amtrak has enjoyed “great success improving our ridership and being more efficient in delivering passenger rail service to the country,” but that service is not offered as broadly as the company would like.
“What we would like to do is we would like to expand passenger rail service,” James said. “One of the routes that we would like to implement is a route connecting some of the most wonderful cities in Ohio: Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, Cincinnati, and Crestline. … (Amtrak CEO William J. Flynn) and his team really see and understand the value that medium-distance passenger rail service connecting major cities and rural communities can really do a great job helping to facilitate mobility, helping to revive economies and our communities. Crestline, we think, is a perfect place for that service.”
Crestline Mayor Linda Horning Pitt said local business leaders have expressed a desire to see the return of passenger rail service in the village for several years.
“I know we’ve all been praying a lot about getting Amtrak here and so we are just so blessed and fortunate that we are a selected site with the expansion,” Horning Pitt said.
However, James said the announcement about the proposed passenger rail service linking Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati (known as the 3-C Corridor) “is just the beginning of a process” and is contingent upon securing authorization and financial support from the federal government.
“Our job is to operate the nation’s passenger rail system efficiently with as little taxpayer support as possible,” he said. “We are doing a better job of that and that’s why I think we have the credibility to go before the U.S. Congress and say, ‘Please support us in this plan. Invest in us so that we can provide this service to the community.’”
State Sen. Bill Reineke, R-Tiffin, and State Rep. Riordan McClain, R-Upper Sandusky, attended the press conference and expressed their support for the proposed expansion. James noted that support from local, state, and federal officials is necessary to make the project happen.
“Let your congressional delegation know, too, because, again, for us to move forward on this proposal to come to Crestline, we need Congress to give us the authority to do so,” James said.
James said the proposed service would provide six stops daily in Crestline. A new facility and platform would have to be built, he noted.
Horning Pitt said she believes the proposed expansion would benefit the local economy.
“When the train does come, we’ll have more business,” she said. “Six stops a day during the day. That’ll help boost our economy. We are growing. We are open for business. All good things are happening and the best is yet to come.”
James said he couldn’t provide a timeframe for the project since Amtrak has not yet secured authorization from Congress for the plan. He also declined to provide an estimated cost for developing the 3-C Corridor line. He noted that Congress could provide funding through the Surface Transportation Bill, which expires this year, or funding could come from President Joe Biden’s $2.3 trillion jobs and infrastructure bill or one proposed by Republican lawmakers.
James said the company estimates that 386,000 passengers would use the the proposed 3-C Corridor route annually.
If Amtrak can secure the funding, James said, the company plans to add 30 new routes and 160 cities to its network.