The Northern Indiana Passenger Rail Association (NIPRA) in the US and Fort Wayne have announced that a study for the proposed Chicago-Fort-Wayne-Columbus train route will begin next month.
An agreement has recently been signed with the US Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) to conduct an alternatives assessment and public feedback required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) under federal law in order to proceed with the project.
NIPRA spokesperson and Fort Wayne City councilman Geoff Paddock said: “The return of passenger rail to Fort Wayne will be a huge boost for economic development in Fort Wayne and north-east Indiana.
“It will add momentum to our booming downtown and help revitalise neighbourhoods that surround the train station. It is gratifying that the FRA and INDOT see there is an untapped market for rail service in Fort Wayne.”
The proposed Chicago-Fort-Wayne-Columbus corridor will provide passenger rail connections to 100 Midwest cities through a regional rail network.
Initially, trains will travel at maximum speeds of 75mph and eventually increase this to 110mph.
As part of the alternatives assessment and public involvement process, the preliminary engineering, technical analysis, and service planning along the proposed route would be examined, as well as environmental impacts.
Along with the public input process, the study is set to begin in early January.
FRA will provide technical assistance throughout the process, and serve as the lead agency on the process and use information gained in this work.
After completing the analysis, engineering and design to upgrade the existing tracks will begin.
A rail corridor feasibility study concluded in 2013 revealed that about 2.1 million riders would use the Chicago-Fort-Wayne-Columbus route in 2020, and the number may increase to more than three million by 2040.