“Each of those dots on the map was chosen intentionally,” said Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari.
A preliminary Amtrak route map places stations in Hamilton, Oxford and Sharonville, but not in Middletown. PROVIDED
What would it mean for Hamilton?
Hamilton hopes to land a stop on both routes. Those are the “3Cs+D” of Cincinnati-Dayton-Columbus-Cleveland, for which Sharonville would have the nearest stop for Butler County, and the expanded and more frequent service along the Cincinnati-Indianapolis-Chicago route, on which Hamilton and Oxford would have stops.
Yet if Hamilton had its choice, the city would prefer to be on the “3Cs+D” route, which some believe would have more daily traffic, as opposed to possibly more weekend trips to and from Chicago. The problem is, the rails Amtrak proposes to link Cincinnati with the other major Ohio cities is the Norfolk & Southern line, which passes to the east of Hamilton.
What about Middletown?
Each proposed stop is based on projected ridership and also the amount of time it would take for people to ride a route, officials said. That’s why Middletown isn’t a stop on the 3Cs+D route.
“The more stops a train makes, the longer a schedule is,” Magliari said.
Middletown spokeswoman Shelby Quinlivan noted Middletown City Council recently approved a resolution that noted “Middletown has a long history of railroad usage, including the presence of a railroad depot near the downtown area.” The resolution urged Congress to approve legislation that would make it possible.
What happens next?
Before any of the routes can happen, Amtrak says it needs Congress to do two things:
- Include in the upcoming Transportation and Housing Urban Development appropriations bill $5 billion for capital improvements and $60 million for operations to fund Amtrak’s Corridor Development Program.
- Renew the five-year federal Surface Transportation Reauthorization this year, with changes that include Amtrak’s proposed Corridors Development Program authorized at $25 billion for capital improvements and $300 million for operations over five years. The bill proposes federal subsidies for the routes as they develop ridership.
Passage of each likely will be a struggle.