Passenger Trains on 3C “Quick Start” could be High-Tech, Self-Propelled, and Cost-Effective
State’s Rail Commission prefers DMUs to traditional Locomotives
COLUMBUS (Friday, November 20, 2009) - As Ohio awaits word from Washington on its stimulus funding application for the 3C “Quick Start” Passenger Rail Plan, the state’s rail commission wants to see the Ohio Department of Transportation use the latest technology in self-propelled passenger rail cars - cars are more cost-effective and could be built here in Ohio.
The Ohio Rail Development Commission passed a motion yesterday asking ORDC staff and ODOT to explore the preferred use of Diesel Multiple Unit (DMU) passenger rail vehicles.
The Commission wants ODOT and ORDC to have an equipment plan ready when the state gets word on its federal stimulus application for investing, constructing, and operating a passenger rail service corridor connecting Cleveland, Columbus, Dayton, and Cincinnati with medium speed 79 mph passenger trains.
The application for $564 million was submitted October 2nd to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and an answer could be forthcoming as early as the end of January.
Unlike conventional passenger trains that use a locomotive to pull the cars, the modern-looking DMUs combine the passenger car with the locomotive, making each individual railcar self-propelled.
In examining the two train types - which included visits by ODOT and ORDC staff to observe trains already in operation in other states - DMUs proved to be more cost-effective, fuel-efficient and emissions-efficient. They can also carry more passengers with fewer cars than was originally indicated in the Amtrak study upon which Ohio’s stimulus grant application was based.
ORDC Commission Vice-Chair Tom McOwen, a veteran railroader who worked with staff on the report, says he wasn’t sure at first if DMUs would compare favorably with a locomotive-hauled train.
“But it knocked my socks off when I saw how efficient DMUs appear to be,” said McOwen. “Most Ohioan’s haven’t had passenger trains for 30 years, so it’s important that the equipment we choose makes a good first impression.”
Newly-appointed Commission Chairman James Bradley remarked that selecting equipment is an important “stake in the ground” in order for Ohio to be ready to meet a 2011-2012 timeline to have the 3C “Quick Start” passenger service underway.
Although several manufacturers produced diesel multiple unit passenger vehicles, only one U.S.-based company makes a DMU that is compliant with FRA-mandated crash standards. That manufacturer is the former Colorado Rail Car, which has since been purchased by an Ohio-based company and renamed U.S. Rail Car.
In partnership with ODOT and ORDC, U.S Rail Car has applied for a separate federal stimulus grant to construct a manufacturing and maintenance facility in central Ohio. Approval of that grant is also pending.
For more information, contact Scott Varner, ODOT Communications, at (614) 644-8640
or Stu Nicholson, Ohio Rail Development Commission, at (614) 644-0513
Information on Ohio’s 3C “Quick Start” Plan - including pictures and a presentation on DMUs -
can be found online at http://3CisME.ohio.gov