Indiana will continue Amtrak’s Hoosier State service, shares costs with locals
By Matt Mikus firstname.lastname@example.org October 15, 2013 3:14PM
Updated: November 17, 2013 6:24AM
Daily trains between Indianapolis and Chicago will continue to run for another year, after Indiana Department of Transportation and Amtrak reached an agreement Tuesday to continue the service.
The agreement will renew existing service for one year, with an option of extending the service for four months. Towns served by the line will also contribute to the annual $3.2 million.
“This agreement will make Hoosier jobs more secure and preserve an important transportation link for Indiana,” Governor Mike Pence said. “I am grateful for the leadership of the Indiana Department of Transportation and the generous support of many of the communities with stops along the Hoosier State line.”
The Hoosier State runs four days a week, stopping in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer on its way to Chicago. Southbound trains also can bring extra cars to be worked on at Amtrak’s repair facility in Beech Grove, on the south side of Indianapolis.
Without the Hoosier State, the Chicago-Indianapolis route would have been served only by the three-day-a-week Cardinal, which runs from Chicago to Washington by way of Indianapolis and Cincinnati.
“At the Governor’s direction, the agreement allows state and local partners to monitor ridership and explore service improvements to ensure long-term viability,” said INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning. “The communities that are contributing funding will have a vested interest in improving performance and ensuring accountability for the tax dollars being invested.”
Amtrak services shorter than 750 miles need to receive about 80 percent of its operating funding from the states, under a new federal law passed in 2008.
Indiana is the last of 19 states to decide on continuing to fund local service under the new law.
Lafayette Mayor Tony Roswarski said towns on the rail line have a general concept on how much they will contribute.
“INDOT would come up with half of the money,” Roswarski said, “and the local communities would collectively need to come up with the other half.”
Percentages among the communities may be based on ridership numbers, he added, and it’s up to local communities to decide how to pay. Roswarski said West Lafayette and Tippecanoe County will also contribute, since college students throughout the community use the rail service.