New potential Amtrak platform identified for Hamilton

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

It could take two years before a decision on if Hamilton will receive Amtrak route stops.

The city of Hamilton has lobbied Amtrak and lawmakers for at least one stop in the city for years, and last year the Federal Railroad Administration identified two routes that would go through the heart of the city, including establishing a new line known as the 3C+D and expanding the established Cardinal route. In all, Ohio could have as many as four new routes.

The 3C+D would establish a new connection from Cincinnati to Cleveland, going through Dayton and Columbus. The Cardinal route would open up the Midwest to Hamilton passengers with trains heading to and from Indianapolis and Chicago toward the west, and New York City and Washington, D.C. to the east.

The FRA has agreed to pay $500,000 for planning and studying for each of Ohio’s four routes.

Derrick James, Amtrak’s director of government affairs, said many logistics must be tackled during the process of deciding where new and expanded passenger rail routes will travel.

“We’ve got to get through the scoping process, and then we’ll move to preliminary engineering and the outreach process ... and that’s when the public and policymakers will start to weigh in,” said James, adding there will also need to have discussion with the freight railroads. They will also be a partner as much of the investment will be in their network “to make sure trains run on time and their freight trains move out of the way.”

Included in the decision will be a cost analysis, both what is the most economical location and which communities can give Amtrak the most ridership. James said a Hamilton stop could see between 500,000 to 750,000 riders in year one. Amtrack is expecting to see historic ridership in 2024. In 2019 before the pandemic, the train company had a record 32 million people using Amtrak trains, and James said they’re projecting 32.8 million people riding this year.

A decision on a platform is what Councilman Michael Ryan called “fluid” until the state solidifies the corridors that would run through Hamilton.

If the Cardinal route gets a stop in Hamilton, which would be at Symmes Park, it would get daily service through Hamilton. They could close the underutilized Sycamore Street for parking and acquire some dilapidated properties.

“This would be a good opportunity for us to redevelop the site, revitalize the site and bring some much-needed attention to (Symmes Park),” Ryan said.

While that area would be the only option for a Cardinal route stop, there are two possibilities now for the new route designated as 3C+D, serving the Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland areas.

The first of the possibilities, which has been long-pitched as a possible location for a potential 3C+D route, would be at Maple Avenue and Ludlow Street near MLK Jr. Boulevard. But the second option has been internally discussed for only a couple of months, which is the former Beckett Paper site. This location has plans to become a mixed-use property featuring residential and retail options, but Ryan said adding an Amtrak platform “is kind of exciting.”

“The reason why we like this is it would help ignite what I feel is a pretty stubborn redevelopment project in Beckett Paper,” he said, adding this location would have a minimal traffic impact as there would be enough room for Amtrak to stop without impeding Dayton Street, “and that’s pretty significant. The last thing we want to do is to bring more trains to town that stop more traffic.”

What Ryan is calling on residents, business owners and Hamilton’s neighboring communities is to reach out to decision-makers, including Gov. Mike DeWine and the leaders of Ohio’s General Assembly, Speaker of the House Jason Stephens and Senate President Matt Huffman.

“They need to know how important this is to the city of Hamilton and the future of its businesses,” Ryan said.

James said the decision-makers in the routes will be lawmakers of state governments, and Amtrak will serve as advisors in the process and operators for the system. But he said it is important for everyone to lobby lawmakers as the federal government has earmarked $66 billion ― which James said is more money Amtrak has ever seen invested in passenger rail in its 50-plus-year history ― in the bipartisan infrastructure bill for passenger rail.

An Amtrak stop would improve tourism in the region as it brings people into the county seat, and those people will eat at restaurants, stay at hotels and stop at stores. It also opens Hamilton and Butler County not only to the Midwest and East Coast, but other major cities in Ohio.

And it all leads to future economic development opportunities, Ryan said.

“By far the biggest asset and vision is this would create another gateway into Hamilton,” Ryan said. “This will bring people into our town, this will bring ideas back into Hamilton, and that is the vision.”

Reaching out to lawmakers also includes state lawmakers in neighboring jurisdictions, like in Warren County.

Ohio Rep. Sara Carruthers, R-Hamilton, added that people should also reach out to her and Ohio Sen. George Lang, R-West Chester Twp., as well as other representatives and senators from around the southwest Ohio region.

“It will make an impact,” she said, as many would use the train to travel to Columbus.

James said it’s important to “speak as one voice,” whether it’s all the regions’ chambers of commerce, local governments, or other organizations. He said Amtrak has seen the benefits of a Hamilton stop as they initially included the city, as well as Oxford, on its promotional literature for new and expanded routes.

“We think it makes sense in both communities,” he said.

Amtrak will have a stop in Oxford, which has plans for a multi-modal platform that will also feature a stop for the Butler County RTA as well as access to the multi-use path that loops around the city and in Oxford Twp.


Anyone who plans to write a letter of support for Hamilton getting one or two Amtrak stops should write:

Gov. Mike DeWine, 77 S. High St., 30th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215

House Speaker Jason Stephens, 77 S. High St., 14th Floor, Columbus, Ohio 43215

Senate President Matt Huffman, 1 Capitol Square, 2nd Floor, SH-201, Columbus, Ohio 43215

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