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Ohio’s rail plan goes off tracks in overall logistics

The romance of rail carries a powerful allure for many Americans, so it’s easy to see why the prospect of a passenger train system linking Ohio cities and beyond would create excitement. But romance can’t sweep away gritty facts that don’t appear to add up about Ohio’s proposed 256-mile, six-stop, three-train-a-day “3C” passenger line from Cincinnati to Columbus to Cleveland, which received a $400 million federal funding boost in late January. …

With an average speed of 39 mph and a timetable that makes it all but unusable for business travelers and sports fans, this is not the high-speed, high-tech network that Washington is pitching to the American public.

It is not even like Amtrak’s existing Boston-to-Washington passenger line that can hit 150 mph (but averages 77 between major cities).

Solid reasons exist for supporting a passenger train service. …

But with speed, schedule and station limitations, it’s hard to imagine it gaining a following among the business people on which such a service’s ridership would depend. It could take 6 1/2 hours from Cincinnati to Cleveland, plus time to and from destinations in both cities. Driving directly could take half the time and possibly cost less in gas; some studies suggest cars can be more energy-efficient than trains for intercity travel. ..

The Cincinnati Enquirer,

Feb. 19