Midwest Connect

Midwest Connect: Chicago – Fort Wayne – Columbus – Pittsburgh
Project Overview 

Corridor and Application Definition
Support the City of Fort Wayne and its partners in an FRA Corridor ID Program application for $500,000 to aid in the preparation of the scope, schedule, and cost estimates for a Midwest Connect Corridor Service Development Plan (SDP). The proposed Midwest Connect Corridor would facilitate passenger rail service between Chicago, Fort Wayne, Columbus and Pittsburgh with important connections between smaller urban and rural cities in between.

Selection of the Corridor would allow the city and its partners to study the reintroduction of passenger rail service between the Midwestern hub city of Chicago and points east in the context of improvements to Amtrak’s Lake Shore Limited and Capitol Limited routes via Toledo and Cleveland, potential reintroduction of Broadway Limited and National Limited routes via Fort Wayne and Columbus, and proposed Core Express services as identified in the FRA’s Midwest Regional Rail Planning Study. The Midwest Connect Corridor would reestablish passenger rail service between Chicago, Fort Wayne, Columbus, and Pittsburgh. Backed by INDOT, NIPRA, and other regional partners, this was determined as the optimal route following the analysis of various state and regional studies.

History and Studies
Included in all existing state and regional rail plans, this Corridor has been extensively studied over the past decade alone and the reestablishment of the greater Chicago – Fort Wayne – Pittsburgh corridor has been sought since the discontinuation of passenger service in 1979. These efforts include the completion of a Feasibility Study that included components of a Tier I Environmental Impact Statement for most the Corridor. Similar efforts have been undertaken under the directive of the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) in collaboration with municipal partners as part of a larger effort to reactivate the Chicago to Pittsburgh rail corridor. The latest effort to reintroduce passenger trains between Chicago, Columbus, and Pittsburgh, the Rapid Speed Transformation Initiative (RSTI), was an outgrowth of efforts undertaken in the Chicago – Fort Wayne – Lima, OH corridor.

The Corridor ID program will provide a unique opportunity to resolve the planning and project prioritization issues needed to define a long-term investment program for this corridor of national significance.

Reestablishment of this four-state corridor would invest in urban and rural communities, provide an alternative to U.S. 30 as the sole interstate option connecting the corridor, create better connectivity between major population centers, and create thousands of new full-time jobs.

The Midwest Connect Corridor would provide access to major economic opportunities for small and large businesses and strengthen the region’s service, manufacturing, and tourism industries while protecting the environment from increased vehicular energy consumption and emissions.

The configuration of existing infrastructure and the relatively flat, straight geography of segments of the Corridor also lends itself as potentially a transformative high-speed service as a Core Express corridor between Chicago and the East Coast.