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Critics right to question train system

Gov. Ted Strickland called those critical of his push for a passenger train system connecting the major cities in the state “cheerleaders for failure.”

We think it is more accurate to say “team players if there is a plan” or “squads for sustainability.”

The governor took shots at Republicans and other opponents of the proposed rail service that would use $400 million in federal stimulus money to connect Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton and Cincinnati.

The train system is expected to travel at speeds of less than 80 mph — potentially much slower than that for large parts of the journey.

The governor is quick to point out that Ohio would lose the stimulus money if it didn’t move forward with this project, a plan that Strickland says will create 8,000 jobs.

But what the governor isn’t so quick to tout is that many of these jobs would be temporary and that the system will cost at least $17 million a year to operate. The federal government won’t be picking up the tab for this.

For Ohio, a state that has been crippled by dwindling revenue and a budget that has required massive cuts, taking on more expenses right now may not be the right answer.

Ultimately, Ohio may need this, but the biggest problem is that no one has really done thorough analysis of this issue.

The primary study conducted to determine the needs in the region and potential use of a train system like this was done by Amtrak, the company that stands to make money operating it.

That conflict of interest brings the entire analysis into question and begs to question why Strickland’s administration hasn’t looked deeper into this.

More jobs and federal stimulus money is great for a short-term fix but not until we fully understand the long-term impact this will have on Ohio.