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Officials to meet in attempt to save Amtrak rail service



Published: Sat, February 19, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



A high-speed rail line through Youngstown also will be discussed.

YOUNGSTOWN -- City council's public utilities committee will hold a public hearing Tuesday to see if anything can be done to stop the impending elimination of Amtrak rail service in Youngstown.

On or about March 4, Amtrak will shut down its Three Rivers rail line that stops in Youngstown at the B & amp;O Station.

The line goes between Chicago and New York City. Amtrak officials have said the line is shutting down because the company used it primarily as a mail shipping route, and it's getting out of that business.

Akron and Fostoria also will lose rail service when the Three Rivers line shuts down.

Youngstown Councilwoman Carol Rimedio-Righetti, D-4th and chair of the body's public utilities committee, is holding a public hearing at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in council chambers at city hall to discuss the elimination of rail service in the city.

"We hope Amtrak will reconsider the decision and keep the service in Youngstown," she said.

Rimedio-Righetti said about 200 local residents are frequent users of the Amtrak service.

Economic impact

The city is making a comeback, and people from outside the area would want to use rail to get to Youngstown when the downtown arena opens in November to attend events there, Rimedio-Righetti said. Also, those not from the Mahoning Valley may want to come here for other entertainment and cultural events, she said.

The councilwoman pointed out there is no commercial air service at the Youngstown-Warren Regional Airport in Vienna, and eliminating rail service is another transportation blow to the region.

"Air and rail are key economic components, and we need for them to grow," she said.

Also speaking at Tuesday's public hearing will be Ken Prendergast, Ohio campaign coordinator for the Midwest High Speed Rail Association. The organization is a strong booster of the Ohio Hub plan developed by the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

The commission's Ohio Hub plan envisions a high-speed -- up to 110 mph -- rail service through the state, including as many as eight daily stops in Youngstown. The system would be built in phases over the next 20 years, and would cost between $3 billion and $4 billion, Prendergast said.

"The Youngstown area is about to lose another public transportation service," he said. "Youngstown lost its air service. Greyhound has cut back its bus service. You need public transportation to other areas for your community."

The commission and rail associations have organized public hearings throughout the state to provide information about the Ohio Hub and to seek public input on the plan.




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