Thanks to a $2.1 million grant, Miami University students could arrive in Oxford by train in the future.
The City of Oxford submitted an application to the Ohio-Kentucky-Indiana (OKI) Regional Council of Governments for its Surface Transportation Block grant to construct an Amtrak train station. The grant is on a reimbursement basis, so after construction is completed, OKI will compensate the city for costs.
The city’s application for the grant requested just less than $2 million, but about an additional $100,000 was included in the award to account for inflation.
Miami will provide $350,000 in its partnership with the city, and the city will cover any additional costs.
Construction of the station, which will include restrooms, a passenger waiting area and covered shelters, will begin in 2026. The station will be located at 909 S. Main St., behind SDS Pizza.
Bill Snavely, mayor of Oxford, said construction will not begin for a while because of technicalities with the grant, and the Talawanda Schools Nelson Morrow building will need to be torn down. The people who currently work in the building will be relocated to the Oxford Senior Center.
“There’s a lot of things that have to be done, and you also have to do engineering, you have to do the actual plans, so it takes time,” Snavely said.
David Prytherch, a professor of geography at Miami and an Oxford City Council member, said the next step for the station is to move from a construction planning phase to an advocacy one.
“We need, as Oxford, to work with mayors, with our governors, [and with] the federal government to improve the train,” Prytherch said. “A train station that only gets a train three days a week in the middle of the night, it’s good, but if we can have a train station that has eight trains a day through Oxford, [that would be better].”
Amtrak currently comes through Oxford on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays around 2 a.m. on the Cardinal line connecting Chicago to Cincinnati.
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Jessica Greene, assistant city manager, said the current project has been in progress for a long time. Before being appointed assistant city manager, she worked with Enjoy Oxford and was involved with the project to get more people to Oxford. Once she became assistant city manager, she worked on the initial design.
“I’m thrilled,” Greene said. “It’s really exciting to see that start to come to fruition after years of work.”
Snavely said he thinks it would be great if the station brought more people to Oxford.
“I think that depends on whether we are successful enough [of] a stop that additional lines, additional trains are made available to this route,” Snavely said.
Oxford is a good location for a station primarily because of Miami students, Snavely said.
“That’s our main business in Oxford is Miami University,” Snavely said. “And there are thousands of students who might like to get to and from campus on the train. There’s also a lot of people in this region who would like to travel on train. It’ll be very convenient I think.”
Dennis Brock, an Oxford resident, said an Amtrak station would benefit the community because people will be able to travel more.
“It makes the people that live here more mobile,” Brock said. “So perhaps people who don’t have cars [and] younger people [can] get somewhere else.”
Scott Shriver, another Oxford resident, said he believes now is the time for rail travel to become more widespread in the U.S. because many people may be struggling to afford a car.
“It doesn’t make sense for the country to invest in rail, but it makes sense for individuals to use rail,” Shriver said. “And I would suggest that Oxford has now played a leading role in making that possible for the people in our little region.”