It’s 300 miles from Columbus, Ohio, to Chicago, and a lot of people are making that trek every day… not just from Columbus, but from cities large and small along the way. Fort Wayne, Indiana, for example. Or Gary, Indiana.The proposed three hours and change running time requires substantial infrastructure improvements, or perhaps a resurrection of T1 duplex drives. It would, however, be a substantial acceleration over The Pennsylvania Railroad's summer 1954 schedules, in which The Fort Hayes and The Union required eight to nine hours by way of Piqua, Logansport, and Crown Point (with ample time provided for mail and express handling).
The trouble is, it’s a terrible drive. People in Columbus make the trip to Chicago by going through Indianapolis or by way of Fort Wayne. But either way it’s more than 350 miles and takes a little over six hours … and that’s assuming ideal traffic conditions.
Flying is an option, but not a particularly attractive one. There are all the usual hassles and frustrations, of course; the fare is more than $100 each way; and you’ll end up at O’Hare and have the additional expense of getting into downtown.
Because the proposal makes use of CSX trackage (the former Pittsburgh Fort Wayne and Chicago to somewhere east of Lima, and a former Toledo and Ohio Central line via Kenton into Columbus), the likelihood of bus bridges during summer maintenance season is great.