Economic /Business Impact

NIPRA is committed to Indiana working with surrounding states to support a comprehensive Midwest passenger rail initiative. That initiative will eventually link nine states with a passenger rail network providing substantial economic benefits for Fort Wayne and Northern Indiana. It is estimated that some 4,500 full-time permanent jobs could be generated in Indiana with the completion of this nine state passenger rail network. 

A 2013 Business Case Study for this corridor also sited these additional benefits:

  • Reduced travel times between Chicago, IL and Columbus, OH, as well as all included stops along the way.
  • Reduced congestion on highways for truck, auto and bus traffic.
  • Reduced travel costs due to competitive passenger rail fares when compared to plane and auto costs.

Another major opportunity for economic development in urban areas is around the newly operating train stations.  Station traffic naturally encourages the development of nearby properties as well as new development at the station itself. For other areas who have already successfully revitalized travel by train, property values in and around the stations have increased significantly.

In other intercity projects already moving ahead, station development is attracting private sector partners. Cities like Champaign, Normal, and Milwaukee are already showcasing how passenger rail stations are becoming the centerpiece for redevelopment, and this 2013 Business Case Study is estimating a joint development potential of $2.6 Billion amongst the communities along this route.

(PLEASE NOTE that the above information was calculated using anticipated passenger rail speeds of 110 and 130 mph. Our proposed route will start at 79 mph, with an anticipated future increase to the aforementioned higher speeds)

Analysis projects that our route could:

  • Generate 2.1 million riders in 2020
  • Generate 3.3 million riders by 2040
  • Generate fare revenues of $116 million per year by 2020
  • Generate fare revenues of $190 million by 2040
  • Generate over $6 billion in user benefits over the thirty year life of the project
  • Produce a cost-benefit return of 1.7

This shows that each $1 invested in our passenger rail initiative produces $1.70 of economic return, a very acceptable result for such a major infrastructure project. 

  • 26,800 full-time jobs for 30 years or 806,000 person years of work
  • $700 million per year in extra household income along the route
  • $2.6 billion in increased joint development opportunities for the communities along the route

Community Impact

Local business benefits.Folks who travel by train may travel to or from a community where they’re likely to use a taxi, rent a car, stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant, go to a concert, attend a sporting event, and do some shopping. And while this may vary from city to city, these streams of revenue are of great benefit to many. See our section on Economic/Business impact for more detail.

New station development.Anywhere a train stops the community will need (and want) to improve their stations. And station development leads to more employment, new construction jobs, increased property values, new development of land adjacent to the station, and an increased local tax base. All of the above are often grouped together and referred to as Transit Oriented Development, or TOD.

Passenger Rail Impact.Research indicates that local communities currently providing passenger rail are realizing a revenue benefit of $62 million annually. This economic boost is in addition to benefits such as highway congestion relief, improved air quality, better energy conversation, and increased safety.

Educational Impact

The educational community has expressed significant interest in the planning for the rail corridor, with Indiana Tech, Grace College & Seminary, and Valparaiso University having signed on as contributors. There are 141 institutions of higher education, totaling more than 896,000 students, located within 25 miles of the rail stations shown on the corridor map. These institutions form the backbone of the "knowledge-based economy" to which all Midwestern communities are striving to connect. “Universities have, by design, the best ecosystem for entrepreneurship and innovation“--Jim Clifton, Gallup Chairman, The Coming Jobs War.

A portion of Lima, OH Mayor David Berger’s speech at 12/19/16 news conference

“It is really important for 21st Century communities to have multi-model transportation opportunities for everyone.  One piece I’d like to mention to illustrate – the map shows the connections from Chicago to Columbus.  What’s really important is not just getting to the downtowns; it’s getting to the airports.  When you think about airport connections from Columbus and Chicago and then you think 30 miles north and south of this line.  Within that corridor roughly 150 colleges and universities with about 890 thousand students - now this rail connection with those airport connections including Gary, those airports create an opportunity for really connecting to the world.  And that’s really the way we ought to be thinking about this rail line.  This (corridor) improves all of us with the opportunities that are available.  ….  We have to be ready to take advantage of whatever that next wave of resources is going to be!”

Safety Impact

Fewer vehicles on the road means safer roads. The reduction in automobile traffic is estimated to decrease by roughly 3 million vehicles over the next 30 years.  Communities similar to ours have seen a statistical drop in traffic accidents with the implementation of passenger rail.

Our proposed system will also use Positive Train Control (PTC) to ensure the safety and effective operation of all trains, as well as quad gates to provide a fully separated and sealed corridor environment for train operation.  This will greatly improve railroad crossing safety and provide automatic train stop capability should any vehicle become trapped by the gates. 

Environmental Impact

Population growth in our area is expected to increase traffic by over 30 million trips; equivalent to a 40% increase in traffic by 2050. Such an increase will bring significant congestion and delays as our current highway and air systems cannot be expanded sufficiently to support such a growth spike. By comparison, passenger rail will bring substantial environmental benefits, providing a cost effective alternative to auto and air travel, tempering the strain on our highway infrastructure and making population growth more manageable from a travel perspective.

The environmental benefits include:

  • Decreased energy consumption
  • Reduced accidents
  • Reduced air pollution and emissions
  • Reduced land for auto and air facilities
  • Intensified and reuse of urban area lands around stations
  • Reduced wetland and water resource impact by reuse of existing rail routes.


The level of environmental support for passenger rail reflects its ability to minimize energy, reduce accidents, minimize highway congestion, and limit greenfield impacts by making optimal use of existing right-of-way. This development strategy will produce a much smaller carbon and physical footprint than either highway or airport development, in which forests, farmland, or wetlands are often impacted.

Recreational Impact

Whether your traveling for business or pleasure, passenger rail is both cost-effective and unique. Going to the Columbus Zoo? Hop on a train with your companions to enjoy a meal or play games while you’re en route. Spending a weekend in Chicago? Begin and end your stay with a relaxing, safe and satisfying ride. Or, conduct business on your phone and laptop. Passenger rail does all the driving for you.

Less Congestion

Congested roads and airports increases everyone's stress level. By providing another means like passenger rail, stress levels are dramatically reduced and replaced with the leisure travel should provide.

Less Wasted Time

Most travel includes waiting. Waiting in the security line at the airport terminal. Stuck in a traffic jam. Tied up in weather delays. All these things eat away at our precious time. Passenger rail travel links urban areas together faster than a car, bus, or plane. And the loading and unloading times are much faster than you’ll find at any airport.

More Convenience 

Train travelers arrive in well-connected, centrally located stations, preventing downtown parking headaches (and the ever-increasing cost that goes with it). It also places passengers at the center of a city's transportation system, providing easy access and connections to shuttles and cabs for travel to final urban destinations. Lockers at major train stations make it easy to store an extra bag or two, thus permitting more freedom to move about the city.

More Travel Quality

Traveling by car limits our movement, increases our personal liability, and demands our mental attention. It’s no secret that multi-tasking while driving is quite dangerous. Airplanes and buses present similar problems, requiring passengers to remain in cramped seats and limiting the use of electronic devices. Passenger trains minimize a traveler's discomfort by providing more spacious seating, freedom of movement, and opportunity to engage in a variety of productive activities--or simply relax. The extra time and freedom of rail travel allows passengers to catch up on work, read a book, play games, or simply enjoy the scenery as it rolls past.