Ohio High Speed Rail: The Bullet Train Plan For The Buckeye State

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little biased here. As of this post, I live in Ohio (just north of Cincinnati) and have lived in the state since March 2006. So of course, the Ohio high speed rail would be my first state-network I break down and analyze for a nationwide bullet train network. But don’t worry, all other continental US states will be analyzed when this is all said and done. High speed rail in Ohio has been proposed several times, including in 2010 with stimulus money but was ultimately rejected by then-incoming governor John Kasich. 

A Quick Ohio Snapshot

As of 2016 census estimate, Ohio has 11.6 million people, making it the 7th most populous state in the United States. It has six main cities, starting with its capital Columbus (860,090), Cleveland (389,521), Cincinnati (298,165), Toledo (281,031), Akron (197,859), and Dayton (141,003). Ohio has 1 national park, Cuyahoga Valley National Park, which attracted more than 2.4 million visitors in 2016. There are several very popular state parks and historical sites as well. Ohio is home to one of the largest universities in the country, Ohio State. They also have several other universities with high enrollment, including Kent State, The Universities of Cincinnati, Toledo, and Akron, Miami, and Bowling Green to name a few. Ohio also has Cedar Point, one of the top and most visited amusement parks in the entire country. Other notables include Kings Island, Coney Island, Jungle Jack’s Landing, and Tuscora Park.

General Outline of the Ohio High Speed Rail Network

The goal is to connect as many cities, national parks, state parks, college/universities, and popular attractions such as amusement parks. These locations are where the people go to the most, making the commute much faster and more efficient. In addition this would help the economy grow as attractions and national parks get more visitors. It would also attract regional visitors from nearby cities because they would have a much more direct route without driving, saving time. People can and will have the freedom to travel to places around the state once thought too far away.

Planned Routes: Intra-State Cities

All 6 major cities in Ohio will have direct routes to each other. Those cities are Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Akron, and Dayton. All cities will have at least 6 direct trains running everyday, possibly more depending on demand. Most cities will be accessible to each other with a 40 minute train ride or less. The longest route, between Cincinnati and Cleveland, is the only exception, with a 50 minute route planned (about 250 miles).

Let’s take that route for example (Cincinnati to Cleveland). Currently there are no connecting flights between the two cities. You can connect through a number of different airports to get to Cleveland, but you’re looking at at least 3 hours and 33 minutes total flight time. Prices start at $240 and go up to past $500. Most connecting flights are between 3 hours and 30 minutes to 6 hours. By car it would take 3 hours and 40 minutes with good traffic, with 4 hours being a more realistic time between both cities.

Now let’s take into consideration my proposed Ohio high speed rail network. It would reduce that 3 hour and 40 minute drive down to 50 minutes. You could make not one, but two full round trips in that time and still make it before a car would make it one way. In addition, there would be no long lines for security, and boarding and getting off would be a fast process. Access to public transportation would be immediately available outside the rail station.

Once a passenger arrives in Columbus, they will be able to transfer to any train across the state. Not all trains will stop in Columbus, but it will still be a busy station. From Columbus, you can connect to any university, state park (and Cuyahoga Valley National Park), or major attraction in Ohio. The station will also offer some express routes to cities out

Planned Routes: Regional Inter-City Routes

Cincinnati and Columbus will be the primary stations for the Ohio high speed rail trains to stop. Columbus will mostly a connecting hub for routes inside the state, and Cincinnati would be a regional hub connecting to other cities. Cincinnati is the only city in the country that has more of the US population within 600 miles than any other city, making it the perfect place for trains to connect to.

Cincinnati would be the primary regional hub. In addition to its routes to other Ohio cities, it will also offer direct routes to Indianapolis, Chicago, Louisville, Lexington, Nashville, Knoxville, Atlanta, Charlotte, and Pittsburgh to start out, adding more cities as demand allows for. This station will be very, very busy as tons of passengers will be boarding and getting off. This means the train terminal will also be very large. It will have plenty of restaurants and entertainment. The terminal would be open 24 hours a day and trains would be running through around the clock.

Columbus will still offer some limited regional service. In addition to its routes inside Ohio, there will be direct links to St. Louis, Kansas City, Indianapolis, and Pittsburgh starting out, with changes to demand as it allows. This will also be a busy station, but my initial predictions is that it won’t quite be as busy as Cincinnati. However, it will feature some of the same restaurants and entertainment that Cincinnati has. It will also be a likely candidate to be a 24 hour station.

Planned Routes: Seasonal Routes

Ohio is a state where tourism would peak from May through September. During this time, there will be more seasonal direct routes to amusement parks, state parks, national parks, national forests, and other points of interest. The most popular route would be from Cincinnati to Gatlinburg. The train would bypass both the Lexington and Knoxville stations and go straight into Gatlinburg. The trip would be completed in 1 hour at 300 mph.  

Cedar Point will be another seasonal express route. It will be offered to all major Ohio cities on the Ohio high speed rail network and even smaller cities as well. And it would also be offered in other nearby regional cities. The same would hold true for Cuyahoga Valley National Park.

The Economic Benefits of the Ohio High Speed Rail Network

Want to check out my master plan for high speed rail and other networks? Click here to see what it’s all about!

Brian Cole

I'm Brian and I'm the founder of TransportationOfTomorrow.com. I have a strong passion for fixing America's transportation infrastructure problem and traffic flow issues. I ultimately want to see the American economy grow as far as it will go, create massive amounts of jobs, and in that way help the quality of how people live.