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Indiana Department of Transportation

INDOT > About INDOT > Central Office > Hoosier State Passenger Rail Hoosier State Passenger Rail


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.

Public Funding

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.

Request for Proposal

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. 

FRA Determination


The decision to terminate Hoosier State service followed the Federal Railroad Administration imposing new requirements for the state of Indiana to serve as a railroad, even though it owns no track or trains.

“Passenger rail providers and the host railroads are already required to comply with FRA rules,” said Indiana Department of Transportation Commissioner Karl Browning. “Requiring a redundant layer of bureaucracy would not create improvements in passenger rail service or safety, it would only increase taxpayer costs.”

Under new rules that the FRA is testing with Indiana, all states that support passenger rail services would be considered railroad carriers. This burdensome interpretation exposes states to significant increases in cost, paperwork and liability, including (1) Liability for the actions of passenger rail providers up to $200 million for each occurrence of injury, death or property damage, (2) Hiring new staff to monitor plans and programs in compliance with federal rules, and (3) Interpretation that state employees are rail employees, subject to retirement and employer liability rules and limits.  

Amtrak Agreement      

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.

Cost Benefit Analysis

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.

Transportation Options

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:

  1. Amtrak’s Cardinal service (Trains 50 & 51) will continue to operate three days per week – Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays northbound and Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays southbound – with intermediate stops in Crawfordsville, Lafayette, Rensselaer and Dyer. Tickets are available at www.amtrak.com, 800-USA-RAIL and other sales channels, including Amtrak mobile apps.
  2. Greyhound offers express bus service with intermediate stops in Lafayette. In addition, INDOT uses federal transit funds to support once-daily regional service with stops in Merrillville, Gary and Hammond. For fare and schedule information and to buy tickets, call 800-661-8747 or visit http://www.greyhound.com/.
  3. Megabus offers frequent express bus service. Visit www.megabus.com for additional information about the service, schedules, arrival and departure times and fares.
  4. American and United airlines offer frequent nonstop service between Indianapolis and Chicago O’Hare international airports. Purchase tickets at www.aa.com or http://www.united.com/

Related Links

INDOT Contact Information

Venetta Keefe
Senior Rail Planner
Indiana Department of Transportation
100 N. Senate Ave., IGCN 955
Indianapolis, IN 46204
317-232-1474
vkeefe@indot.in.gov