Wednesday, December 2, 2009

State rail group recommends DMUs for 3C 'Quick Start'

The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) has recommended the use of diesel multiple unit (DMU) vehicles for the 3C Corridor "Quick Start" plan.

Last week, ORDC passed a motion asking its staff, and the Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT), to explore the use of DMUs, and to have an equipment plan ready for when the state gets word on its application for $564 million in federal economic stimulus funding.

Considered the latest in passenger rail technology, DMUs combine the passenger car with the locomotive, making each individual rail car self-propelled. As cars are added so is motive power, making adjustments to passenger demand much simpler.

ORDC studies showed that DMUs are more cost-effective, fuel-efficient and emissions-efficient.

"It knocked my socks off when I saw how efficient DMUs appear to be," said Tom McOwen, vice chair of the ORDC. "Most Ohioans haven't had passenger trains for 30 years, so it's important that the equipment we choose makes a good first impression."

The application for $564 million in stimulus funding was submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) on October 2, and word on funding could come to the state as early as the end of January.

One key development – the promise of Ohio jobs – could help pull in funding.

Columbus-based US Railcar, formerly Colorado Railcar, has applied for $8.7 million in federal stimulus funding to construct a 100,000-square-foot passenger rail car facility in the Columbus suburb of Gahanna, which could employ up to 200 workers.

US Railcar is currently the only U.S. manufacturer producing FRA-compliant DMU vehicles.

Only FRA-compliant DMUs are permitted to run along freight rail lines, which the "Quick Start" plan proposes to use to connect Cincinnati, Dayton, Columbus and Cleveland.

Photo "158854 at Nottingham" courtesy of Flickr user Matthew Black, through the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 license.

Previous reading on BC:
State, county organizations support passenger rail (10/5/09)
Report: 3C 'Quick Start' could save Ohioans $36M per year, pay off in five years (9/29/09)
Caution, communication needed in 3C Corridor choices (8/6/09)
Cincinnati EDC to consider resolution of support for Ohio passenger rail service (2/23/09)
All Aboard Ohio: Stimulus bill may ignore Ohio's train and transit needs (1/21/09)