It doesn't guarantee there will be passenger rail service linking Columbus to Cleveland and other Ohio and Midwest cities anytime soon, but there is $500,000 worth of federal money in the pipeline to study the environmental impact of the so-called Ohio Hub plan.

Sen. Sherrod Brown said last week that the money was included in a Senate transportation spending bill for 2009 passed last week by the Senate Appropriations Committee. In addition to studying Ohio rail- service plans, the study would look at the breadth of a potential 1,200-mile interstate rail network that would connect Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and parts of Canada, according to Brown's office.

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