Valley officials take steps to bring high-speed trains


High-speed trains in the Valley would travel from Cleveland to Pittsburgh.

YOUNGSTOWN — Within seven to nine years, Valley residents might have the ability to jump a train to the Carnegie Science Center in Pittsburgh and then make it up to Cleveland for a Cavaliers game in the same day.

High-speed trains that travel at 110 mph are in the works for the region and would run from Cleveland to Pittsburgh, with a few stops in between.

The 300-seat trains would consist of four passenger cars, possibly a bistro car and two locomotives, said Don Damron, passenger rail planning manager for the Ohio Rail Development Commission.

“What’s old is new again,” said Matthew Dietrich, ORDC executive director, of building up a rail service that was once a highly used method of transportation in this area.

The project that would connect trains from Cleveland to Warren, Youngstown and Pittsburgh, is part of the Ohio Hub and has been in the works since 2000.

High-speed trains moving through the Valley would create construction jobs and connect communities by rail, said Dietrich.

“We are moving forward and pursuing this,” said U.S. Rep. Tim Ryan of Niles, D-17th — even though Ohio will have to compete with other states for federal funding for the $650 million project.

Working together with other members of Congress from Pittsburgh and Cleveland will be key in receiving the necessary funding, said Ryan.

“I think we make a strong case of why it works,” said Mayor Jay Williams, of the project being compelling enough to merit the funding needed to make high-speed trains a reality here.

Having high-speed trains would be a great asset for residents, said Ryan.

People could still enjoy a lower cost of living, while having access to the advantages offered by the larger neighboring cities.

“The timing of this is perfect,” said Mayor Michael O’Brien of Warren, because of the high cost of gas and energy issues. “Steps need to be taken now.”

And those steps have already begun, acknowledged Ryan, who said, “we are ahead of the game,” in terms of studies and working together with the state.

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