First of all, supporters of Amtrak and train travel in general are hopeful more train routes will be added, including five in Ohio, if Congress approves additional funding for more passenger rail service nationwide, at a cost of $300 million per year. Also being sought are significant capital improvements — a proposed $25 billion in each of five-year increments through 2035 for capital improvements, including new stations, new trains, and new or rebuilt tracks.
Congress considered similar legislation during its previous session. It was approved by the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives, but went nowhere in the Senate, which until this year was led by Republicans. With Democrats now controlling both the House and Senate, advocates such as All Aboard Ohio hope for approval.
Secondly, Gov. Mike DeWine would have to support the expansion. He is expected to be more receptive to Amtrak’s proposal than his predecessor, John Kasich, who returned $400 million to the federal government for a similar plan several years ago. His office has not responded to questions posed by this media outlet.
Under the proposed terms that have been offered, states eventually would have to provide money to help finance any Amtrak operating deficits, which are likely.
But is it likely there would be stops in Oxford, Hamilton and the Middletown area?
Officials from All Aboard Ohio say that based on Amtrak service elsewhere, such stops are likely, so the trains offer long-distance and relatively local service at the same time. Amtrak trains tend to have one or more stops relatively close to each other near larger cities before making long runs without stops in the large spaces between the big cities.
A station in Oxford wouldn’t necessarily rule out one in Hamilton on the route between Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Chicago, they say. And one in Hamilton may not harm chances for Oxford.
What about Hamilton’s CSX station? Could that be a location for an Amtrak stop?
Probably not, at least where the station now is located. That, and the fact CSX has considered tearing down the station along Martin Luther King Boulevard, is why Hamilton Mayor Pat Moeller has suggested moving the station. CSX said recently it will not tear down the station at 432 Martin Luther King Blvd. for a year to allow time for options.
He has planned to meet with historians and rail enthusiasts to figure out ways to finance such a move. Then the question is where would it move? That has yet to be determined.