COLUMBUS, Ohio (WCMH) – Could passenger trains make a comeback to Columbus?

The question was one of many at a weekly discussion forum hosted by the Columbus Metropolitan Club, with a panel of experts weighing in on if and when passenger trains could soon be an option for Ohio travelers.

Amtrak currently services Cleveland and Cincinnati, but is it feasible to bring passenger rail to central Ohio and is there a need?

A panel of three transportation and regional experts tackled those topics and the consensus is that the city is in a great position for passenger rail given its location and population growth, but getting it here will take time.

The experts discussed how President Joe Biden’s 2021 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law could boost the chances of passenger rail becoming a reality in Columbus because of available funding.

The 2021 law provides a $66 billion investment in passenger rail and, according to Executive Director of Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission William Murdock, a major deadline is approaching to take those first steps in bringing back rail.

“That date is important because we’re applying to answer those questions everybody has: how fast, where are the stops, and how much is it going to cost,” Murdock said. “Doing the study is how we answer those questions, and it sets us up for federal investments to make it a reality.”

Murdock feels more confident about the probability of trains returning to Columbus now than he ever has before.