Warsaw Mayor Joe Thallemer and the mayors of eight other cities announced today that they will sign a memorandum of agreement calling for cooperation in development of a Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus passenger rail line, according to a press release from Thallemer’s office.
The Ohio cities represented in the agreement are Columbus, Marysville, Kenton and Lima. The Indiana cities include Fort Wayne, Warsaw, Plymouth, Valparaiso and Gary.
The memorandum calls for the parties “to systematically and incrementally develop the higher speed rail intercity system in cooperation with existing freight rail operators and owners of right‐of-way along a corridor from Chicago to Columbus through northern Indiana hereafter known as the Northern Indiana/Ohio High Speed Rail Initiative.”
The memorandum resolves that the parties will work together to secure funding for the federally required environmental impact study, the next step in developing the passenger rail line.
The study would examine the preliminary engineering, technical analysis, service planning and environmental impacts along several different routes in order to determine the preferred route for the rail lines.
This study could begin in late 2014 and would take 18 months to complete. Once complete, the study  would be submitted to the Federal Railroad Administration.
“This is a very important step forward for Warsaw and all the community partners who have supported high speed rail. This agreement strengthens the commitment and resources of those whistle-stop communities from Columbus to Chicago,” Thallemer said in the release.
A recent rail corridor feasibility study concluded that approximately 2.1 million riders would use the Chicago-Fort Wayne-Columbus route in 2020, with that number growing to more than 3 million in 2040.
The study also estimated that for every $1 invested, $1.70 would be generated in economic return through job growth and increased property values.
The study was completed in 2013 by Transportation Economics & Management Systems Inc. for the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association.  
The 300-mile-long passenger rail corridor would operate up to 12 trains daily, each direction, along the route. Express services would link downtown Chicago to Columbus in less than four hours.