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Amtrak’s Hoosier State passenger rail line, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago, will have its last day of service Wednesday, April 1.
Congress voted in 2008 to end federal support for the Hoosier State and other Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles. In October 2013, the state of Indiana partnered with Indianapolis, Crawfordsville, Rensselaer, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and Beech Grove to fund Hoosier State operating and capital costs not covered with ticket revenue.
Local communities with stops along the Hoosier State line are financing more than half of the monthly payments in cash or in-kind contributions. The communities that are contributing funding have a vested interest in improving performance and ensuring accountability for the tax dollars being invested. The Indiana Department of Transportation and its community partners committed to reexamining the funding model for a long-term contract agreement.
Indiana issued Request for Proposals 1404s1 in April 2014. Corridor Capital LLC, Herzog Transit Services Inc./Passenger Transportation Specialists Inc., Iowa Pacific Holdings Inc. and Railmark Holdings Inc. submitted proposals to improve the Hoosier State service, increase the number of passengers and decrease operating costs. INDOT was negotiating renewal of the service on behalf of the state, Beech Grove, Crawfordsville, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Rensselaer, Tippecanoe County and West Lafayette.
As of March 2015, INDOT had been making progress in negotiating long-term agreements with two experienced passenger rail providers, Amtrak and Iowa Pacific Holdings. Under the proposed service, Amtrak would have served as the primary operator, working with host railroads, providing train and engine crews, and managing reservation and ticketing. This would have taken advantage of the priority access and pricing that Amtrak enjoys with the host railroads. Iowa Pacific would have provided the train equipment, train maintenance, on-board services and marketing.
The proposed service was modeled in part after Amtrak’s successful Piedmont service, which operates between Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C. The North Carolina Department of Transportation owns the equipment used for the Piedmont. NCDOT contracts with Amtrak for operations and private contractors to maintain the rolling stock.
INDOT’s current funding agreement with Amtrak maintains the preexisting Hoosier State service. This includes a monthly credit to ferry rolling stock between Chicago and Amtrak’s heavy maintenance facility in Beech Grove. A short-term agreement and contract extension have continued service through April 1, 2015.
At the request of its partners in the legislature, INDOT funded a cost benefit analysis that studied the impacts of discontinuing the service, keeping the status quo or improving the service. Improvement options include variations in frequencies and departure/arrival times.
INDOT supports a multi-modal strategy to address the current and future surface transportation needs of the state of Indiana and Indiana taxpayers. In general, INDOT will satisfactorily maintain, support and operate our transportation infrastructure at the lowest cost to taxpayers. INDOT provides cost-effective transportation solutions to reduce traffic congestion, improve public safety, improve air quality, encourage economic development and encourage job growth. INDOT encourages Hoosier State travelers to take advantage of alternative transportation options between Indianapolis and Chicago:
Senior Rail Planner
Indiana Department of Transportation
100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN 955
Indianapolis, IN 46204