‘Please come to Hamilton’: City urging Amtrak route expansion in Ohio, which could benefit many in Butler County

Hamilton City Council passed a resolution urging Congress to approve transportation legislation that would expand five routes in Ohio, including between Cincinnati and Chicago and from Cincinnati to Cleveland.

As the council unanimously approved the legislation Wednesday, Mayor Pat Moeller spoke his own message to Amtrak: “Please come to Hamilton, and we’ll support you.”

Hamilton, Middletown and Oxford are all hoping to get stops on routes. For Oxford and Hamilton, that route would be for the Cardinal train, which would run from Cincinnati to Indianapolis and Chicago. The Cardinal still runs through Hamilton but hasn’t stopped in the city since 2005.

Middletown and Hamilton also are hoping to have stops on a route that would link Cincinnati, Dayton, Springfield, Columbus and Cleveland.

“You already have a train that passes through there (Hamilton and Oxford) six times a week, so whether it’s that train or additional service, we know there’s interest in both towns for us to stop,” Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari told this media outlet.

Moeller has led the way in trying to save the station along the CSX line near the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, which Magliari referred to as “our former home.”

“Station-location decisions — I can’t speak to the specifics here — are generally determined by the community coming to us and saying, ‘Here’s where we want a stop,’” Magliari said. “And then we go to the railroad who owns the tracks, and it’s not us there, and say, ‘OK, here’s where they’d like us to stop Will this work?’”

CSX and Amtrak, in Hamilton’s case, would then discuss what might work and what wouldn’t, he said.

Officials from All Aboard Ohio, a rail advocacy group, have said a stop is more likely for Middletown on the route linking Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland than it is for Hamilton to be part of that route, based on prior Amtrak recommendations.

Asked about that, Magliari said: “I don’t want to get ahead of ourselves here. We’ve not even released a plan. There’s been some discussions about a plan. Nor have we released what we’re going to specifically be asking Congress for,” other than generalities.

Moeller and other Hamilton officials have advocated moving the CSX station elsewhere, and naming it for presidents Abraham Lincoln and Harry Truman, who spoke nearby during railroad campaigns.

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