All aboard: Ohio promotes rail growth

Sandusky train station could get $4M upgrade
Andy Ouriel
Mar 12, 2014


A partnership between four Ohio cities with Amtrak stops, including Sandusky, could place them on track to receive millions of federal dollars for station upgrades.

Ken Prendergast, the executive director for All Aboard Ohio, recently clued Erie County commissioners in about how Sandusky’s train station could receive up to $4 million for various improvements. All Aboard Ohio officials advocate for better transportation across the state.

The best chance to receive funds, however, revolves around government officials in the Amtrak zones of Sandusky, Elyria, Cleveland and Toledo banding together and jointly submitting a funding application, Prendergast said.

A united front, as opposed to each of the four entities individually applying, gives this quartet a better shot at receiving money.

“Amtrak has shown a willingness to improve stations” Prendergast said.

Local officials seemed receptive to pursue a partnership.

“That sounds like a great idea for everyone, including the railroad” Erie County commissioner Pat Shenigo said.   Commissioners directed staff to investigate the application process so they can possibly secure funds.

Erie County wants “to explore the possibility of funding to improve the infrastructure at the Sandusky Amtrak station to reduce congestion and encourage economic development for passenger and freight customers traveling the rail corridor,” Erie Regional Planning director Steve Poggiali said.

Many trains, including locomotives and cars chugging along Amtrak’s popular Lake Shore Limited line, rumble through these four cities on a daily basis.

The Lake Shore Limited line spans from Chicago to New York City, with passengers capable of boarding a train in either direction, be it east or west, daily.

Spruced up station
Potential station upgrades result from Amtrak experiencing a boom in ridership, both nationally and locally, Prendergast said.

Amtrak’s national ridership eclipsed a record 30 million riders in 2012, according to the company’s statistics. The figure also represents a 50 percent increase in riders since 2000.

Locally, almost 9,600 people boarded an Amtrak train at Sandusky’s North Depot Street station in 2013. The figure’s up almost 66 percent from 2008, when 5,800 riders hopped on a car.

If officials obtain money for station upgrades, Prendergast outlined several changes for the Sandusky station, including possibly:

•Upgrading the waiting room.

•Lengthening existing 80-foot platform to 550 feet.

•Constructing a second 550-foot platform on the opposite side of the existing platform.

Since people can only board trains on one side at the Sandusky station, different trains must stop and wait until an engine vacates the main line, avoiding a head-on collision. This process often happens at the Sandusky station, delaying departure and arrival times.

Platforms on both sides would eliminate this conundrum and allow people to arrive at their final destinations faster.

Case in point: From Sandusky, Prendergast estimates riders could shave as much as 30 minutes off their total travel time when getting off in Chicago, about a five-hour journey today. Additionally, riders could save an extra hour when riding to New York City, about a 14-hour trip today.


The Bizness

Awesome, I love taking Amtrak out to Chicago for the weekend.



You and I disagree on this one. This type of funding is a perfect example of why the federal government is trillions of dollars in debt. The overall expense to the federal government is way out of whack to the number of citizens that use this service.

On a local level it reminds me of SPARC. It cost taxpayers $9 to provide a $1 ride.

The Bizness

I know. Public transit almost never breaks even, other than in very rare circumstances. It is necessary though, and that is where we won't agree.


Nonsense. By that logic, the government should stop subsidizing highway and air transportation, too. All developed countries subsidize transportation. It's how they got developed.

The Bizness

Agree. transportation is vital, all types of it.


Then why don't we subsidies the horse and buggy? That's transportation. We just can't continue to support ineffective means of transportation for a few. Bikes for everyone.

The Bizness

I would love for the area to have more bike lanes! Great idea!


You won't have to argue with me on that one. Like what Huron is doing in that respect. The whole coastline around and through Sandusky should have a similar path.

The Bizness

Agree 100%, and I have stated in the past in terms of STS you could cut services if you had better bike infrastructure.

Licorice Schtick

We do subsidize horse and buggy. They use the roads for free.


Re: "All developed countries subsidize transportation. It's how they got developed."

Using socialist, bankrupt Europe and Japan as a model is leading this country in the same direction.

Amtrak is the result of several bankrupt private RRs being merged togther with public spending in order to form one bankrupt public RR.

Just a bigger dog with fleas.

Privatize it.

Licorice Schtick

Privatize all transportation? Sell all airports, roads and sidewalks? Toll booths on every corner?


Re: "Privatize all transportation?"

Topic is Amtrak.

You can read can't you?

Licorice Schtick

I can't read? Your rapier wit pierces my heart.

Transportation subsidies you don't like are socialism, but the ones you like are of-topic?


Re: "of-topic (sic)"

Neither can you spell. :)


Curses! You win again! Logic invalidated by a typo.

WinstonSmith's picture

Sandusky's original gangster and statist scumbag freemason Jay Cooke had all kinds of government funds at his disposal (part of the payback for funding Lincoln's war of northern aggression)and he bankrupted the Northern Pacific Railway.
Free market railroad exeuctive James Hill took advantage of Cooke and other government subsidized bankrupt railroads when he bought, and consolidated (without any government money)a number of railroads including St. Paul and Pacific Railroad, Great Northern Railway, and the Northern Pacific and in January 1893 The Great Northern was the first transcontinental built without public money and just a few land grants, and was one of the few transcontinental railroads not to go bankrupt.

WinstonSmith's picture

Right!? Because EVERYONE knows that roads, schools and Tang didn't exist till after the CONstitution!

Government steals $100.00 bucks from you and by the time they pay for lights, air conditioning and corruption the roads and schools get $40.00

Yeah, that sounds logical... :/

WinstonSmith's picture

Double post


Over the years I have heard this time after time that it is "necessary" to subsidize rail travel. Then the person can't give facts that back it up. They can give reasons, but those reasons don't explain why we must supplement some folks to use a service 90%+ folks won't use.

Licorice Schtick

Why should people who don't use roads or sidewalks pay for them? Because they're a minority? You argue for tyranny of the majority. Most people won't die of cancer. Should we end subsidy of cancer research?

WinstonSmith's picture

Subsidy of cancer research is why we don't have a cure. I've worked in Cancer Centers and they're trying to cure cancer about as much as McDonald's is trying to cure hunger.

The Iroquois Nation had a socialized medical system of sorts, but their doctors didn't get paid unless everyone was healthy.
I'd consider signing that social contract.

Licorice Schtick

So... without government medical research, the medical industry would suddenly and magically wish to end all disease and put themselves put of business?

You go ahead and trust private research that rigs studies and only discloses what's profitable. I prefer transparent work that goes into the public domain.

BTW, you better hope Contango can't read or he'll accuse you of going off-topic.

WinstonSmith's picture

You mean like the research going on in New Orleans in 1962-63? Google "Dr. Mary's Monkey"
That research was born out of the necessity to find a solution to the cancer virus that was released in the polio vaccine for the polio epidemic that was a direct result of antibiotics being pushed by drug manufacturers. You keep trusting government research and keep watching the population of bald cancer kids explode across the country.

How's that for going off topic?


The problem is that the FDA accepts drug industry BS "research," rather than truly independent and thus more likely honest work, when deciding what to approve.


Most people use roads and sidewalks. Most cancer spending is donated. If you want to start a charity with the railroads as recipient be my guest. Amtrack wastes enough tax money on trains that are mostly empty. If they concentrated only on the NE and parts of Cali, they might come close to breaking even... but for most lines that they currently run... not so much. With the economy as it is not worth it.

WinstonSmith's picture

"Most cancer spending is donated"

Do you have any data to back up that claim?

WinstonSmith's picture

If you want to start a charity with the State as recipient, be my guest and I promise I won't use any strong arm mechanisms of the government to force you to donate to the railroads.



Re: grumpy: "trains that are mostly empty"

No. Roads are mostly empty. Amtrak ridership increased 65 per cent in five ears.


Re: "You argue for tyranny of the majority."

On the contrary; YOU argue for the tyranny of the majority.


Any true numbers to back-up the statement on the "overall expense to the federal government is way out of whack to the number of citizens that use this service"?

I guess I should not be paying to subsidize air travel, since I have only flown once in my life that was not a business trip.

WinstonSmith's picture

What exactly are these 'service(s)' you speak of and is a geographic monopoly of force/coercion the best way to organize our community?

The state steals $100 from you, keeps $60 for lights, air-conditioning and corruption, gives $40 for these 'services' and everyone thinks this is a good deal?!

READ ROTHBARD!! For the love of all things beautiful and good, read Rothbard. So your children/grand-children don't become total economic wage slaves... READ ROTHBARD!

The New World Czar

While Amtrak is a good (but unfeasible) alternate means of travel, I don't get what the need would be to do big-time upgrades locally. This is not a major population hub. If you have the funds, then spend them on security given the neighborhood the station is located in.


The knee jerk funding by Congress for Amtrak has created the poor service America enjoys. Without adequate consistant funding the managers at Amtrack cannot plan for the future, make repairs and upgrades to equipment and facilities. Trips by train in England and Germany are a pleasure compared to the once or twice a day scheduled trains we are forced to use. In conjunction with the trains there is local and long distance coordinated bus service. Granted those countries are much smaller then the US but creating a service within Ohio would be an improvement.
Maybe some of the right of way on the interstates could be converted to high speed rail. There would be no expense to purchase more land.
Pick up a copy of Trains magazine to learn some history of passenger rail and the current issues the railroads are dealing with no thanks to the so called experts in Congress who feel they are entitled to tell the railroads how to run their business and continue to create roadblocks with poorly researched legislation.


"Locally, almost 9,600 people boarded an Amtrak train at Sandusky’s North Depot Street station in 2013."

"Erie County wants “to explore the possibility of funding to improve the infrastructure at the Sandusky Amtrak station to reduce congestion..."

9600 boardings a year equals 26 per day. With 4 trains coming through each day, that's 7 boardings per train. Where's the congestion?

The Bizness

Train congestion. Reading AND comprehension are vital.


Yeah those pesky Germans. They have rail & a great economy. What?! They make their government work for them?!! Gasp!


Re: "Yeah those pesky Germans."

Then move kookie.

Yea, they get 39% of their nat-gas from Russia too. lol


Move like you blower? Naw...I'll just stay here & keep my zone happy & safe. Too bad you are miserable.


Re: "Too bad,"

More bloviating off-topic nonsense kookie? lol


If there going to build a second platform on the eastbound track, then they better build a bridge to get to it from the depot. The whole point of the eastbound trains coming in on the westbound track was so people would not be crossing a live track to board. All four trains come in at night not during the day and it can be a little scary around there at night. Every time I have seen an Amtrak train load and unload it has been from one car not the whole train so what is the point in making the platform longer?