Oxford’s plans for multimodal transportation hub include Amtrak stop, but location is tricky

Daily train service on the Cardinal line leading to a hub would mean easy access to Hamilton and Middletown.

This month, the Federal Railroad Administration identified four routes in Ohio as priorities for Amtrak expansion in a move that could impact Oxford’s own dreams of passenger rail.

For more than a decade, the City of Oxford has been working with Miami University to bring an Amtrak station to Oxford. The station would add a stop to the Cardinal line, which runs from Chicago to New York with stops in Cincinnati, Washington, D.C. and more. While the line currently runs three times a week, the FRA’s new funding could bump it to a daily route.

David Prytherch, an Oxford City council member and professor of geography at Miami, said the city plans to break ground on the station in 2026. While the Amtrak expansion news doesn’t impact the timeline, he said it could affect the impact of Oxford’s own plans.

“The announcement last week doesn’t change anything about [building the station],” Prytherch said. “It just means when we have a stop, how many trains will come through, and where might those trains connect?”

Oxford has secured a $2.1 million grant to help construct its station, and assistant city manager Jessica Greene confirmed they’re working with AECOM to design it. The exact location still hasn’t been decided, though. The city’s current plan is to construct the station on the site of the Nelson Morrow building near Chestnut Fields, but the city has yet to reach an agreement with the Talawanda School District, which owns the building and uses it as the primary location for several staff members.

Assistant City Manager Jessica Greene said Oxford is exploring other options near Chestnut Fields if they can’t reach an agreement to acquire the building.

“We were hoping to remove the Nelson Morrow building and move Talawanda somewhere else to have access to the tracks there,” Greene said. “That is, to be honest, becoming a challenge and so we’re looking at is there something else we can do along that strip of land to gain access to the tracks. We’re actively evaluating that right now. We’re working with AECOM to explore all options.”

It’s important to have the final station near Chestnut Fields because it will align with the city’s goal of a multimodal transportation hub. Oxford is working with the Butler County Regional Transit Authority and Miami University to create a transit hub in the area as early as next year, and the Oxford Area Trail System will also eventually pass through. Greene said the BCRTA hub will also have a waiting room with a digital board so people know when a train is coming.

For travelers, daily train service on the Cardinal line leading to a multimodal transportation hub would mean easy access between the rail line and Hamilton and Middletown, as well. If Hamilton’s current efforts to get a stop along the proposed 3C+D line moves forward, it would be even easier for Oxford residents and Miami students to get to major cities across the state and beyond using just public transportation.

Prytherch sees the prospect of an Amtrak connection as transformative for both Oxford and Miami. He said it could help keep alumni connected to the university and attract new faculty and staff to the area with the prospect of easy connections to major cities, in addition to helping future students.

“Oxford is a small town that is somewhat isolated in a rural area. Amtrak brings Oxford closer to the world and the world closer to Oxford. I believe good Amtrak service will make it easier to attract a nationwide, international student body to a town where you’re no longer trapped here if you don’t own a car.”

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