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Hoosier State Line negotiations progressing

An Indiana transportation official says a short-term deal to keep the Hoosier State passenger train line running is still possible before funding runs out this week. 

Congress decided in 2008 to cut off federal funding for passenger lines in more than a dozen states.  Indiana is the only state in the region that hasn’t reached an agreement with Amtrak.  Funding is expected to run out October 16 and officials are working on a short-term agreement that will keep the line running while long-term negotiations continue.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield says talks are progressing, but points out they are complex.

“You know, there’s still some hurdles for us to cross just due to the fact that we have Amtrak and INDOT and local communities involved and we’re working to move everybody together in the same direction.”

Wingfield says it’s too early to say where state money would come from to help pay for the agreement and adds they haven’t nailed down how long any deal would last. And he says he doesn’t know what Amtrak will do with the line if a deal can’t be reached by Wednesday.

“At times in the past they’ve told us that as long as we’re in good faith negotiations they would not terminate service but that’s really for them to say.”

When asked if the line will shut down if a deal is not reached by October 16, Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari said “that’s probably not untrue.”

Brandon Smith is excited to be working for public radio in Indiana. He has previously worked in public radio as a reporter and anchor in mid-Missouri for KBIA Radio out of Columbia. Prior to that, he worked for WSPY Radio in Plano, Illinois as a show host, reporter, producer and anchor. His first job in radio was in another state capitol, in Jefferson City, Missouri, as a reporter for three radio stations around Missouri. Brandon graduated from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a Bachelor of Journalism in 2010, with minors in political science and history. He was born and raised in Chicago.
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