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INDOT, Amtrak reach 1 yr agreement on Hoosier State line

The Hoosier State passenger rail line will keep running for another year after the state reached an agreement Tuesday with Amtrak just hours before funding was scheduled to run out. 

Congress decided in 2008 to cut off federal funding for passenger lines in more than a dozen states.  Funding for the Hoosier State line, which runs between Indianapolis and Chicago, was set to end Wednesday.  But the state, along with officials in several local communities along the line, reached a one-year agreement with Amtrak worth more than $2.5 million to continue operations.  More than half of the money will come from communities that include Lafayette, Indianapolis and Rensselaer.

Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield says it’s a short-term agreement that will give the state time to gather more information as it contemplates long-term solutions.

“Making sure that, you know, it’s not just funding from the legislature; it’s also making improvements to the service in a way that will attract additional ridership and therefore revenue.”

Amtrak spokesman Marc Magliari says his company has been working with other Midwestern states in recent years to make the sort of improvements Indiana could explore

“We’ve been rolling out Wi-Fi service.  In other Midwestern corridors, we’ve also been adding roll-on, roll-off bike transportation so people could pedal their way to the train station and then we’d take their bike on the trains.”

Magliari says other states in the region have made significant capital investments that incorporate federal grant dollars.  A state legislative panel will meet Wednesday to discuss passenger rail funding. 

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