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Ohio considered for high-speed rail

SANDUSKY, Ohio -- According to the Sandusky Register, a network of high-speed rail lines connecting Ohio's big cities could attract enough riders to cover its annual operating costs, say state rail leaders studying the idea.

"The system, we've discovered, can be very competitive," James Seney, executive director of the Ohio Rail Development Commission, said Thursday.

A trial run across northern Ohio earlier this year showed that a train could save travelers time even on a two-hour trip, Seney said.

The proposed routes between the cities are part of a master plan being looked at to upgrade Ohio rail lines and make it possible to bring high-speed passenger trains through the state.

The changes also would increase capacity for freight trains.

The commission this year began studying the regional rail system that would connect Cincinnati, Columbus, Dayton and Toledo through a hub in Cleveland.

The line then would lead to other cities in the Midwest including Detroit and Pittsburgh.

The feasibility study shows there would be more than 30 trains running at an average speed of 100 mph, Seney said. The project would take an estimated 30 years and $4 billion to complete.

"It's going to take big dollars to make it happen," said rail development commission planner Donald Damron.

What makes this plan more viable than other failed high-speed rail proposals are the routes it would take, Seney said.

"This train goes someplace," he said. "It goes to the airports."

Ohio rail officials this week met with transportation leaders from the Toledo area and southeast Michigan to discuss the idea.

A line connecting Cleveland, Toledo and Detroit would attract an estimated 1.6 million passengers each year by 2025 and bring in more than $40.3 million in yearly revenue if it was built with federal help.

Friday, September 27, 2002

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