INDOT releases Hoosier State Line study; Daniels unsure of investment

Sep 26, 2013

Keeping passenger rail service going on the Hoosier State Line will be a costly effort. That’s the finding of a cost-benefit analysis the Indiana Department of Transportation commissioned.

Federal funding for the Amtrak service between Chicago and Indianapolis ends next week.

A cost-benefit analysis looks at eliminating the line, keeping it as is, and four different improvement scenarios.

The study finds operating and maintenance costs range from nearly $4 million to $10 million annually. Infrastructure improvements to support better service options total more than $230 million. The report shows revenue scenarios under each improvement option still would not cover costs.

You can see the full cost-benefit analysis HERE.

Purdue President Mitch Daniels says he’s not sure how important it is to keep the Hoosier State Line running. He thinks it’s an important transportation option for those who do use it.

“In all honesty, that’s a very small number and a very small percentage. The line can be important beyond those numbers, but the reason this is an issue is because it’s a drain,” he says. “All such lines are. I’m not picking on the Hoosier State.”

Daniels says it’s good that Amtrak and communities along the route are meeting and discussing options with the state. He says if an agreement can be reached, it would be a “good outcome.”

However, Daniels says in the end, the Hoosier State Line will likely need a huge subsidy to keep running, which means people who don’t use the service will be paying for it. He is unsure if that investment of taxpayer money is the wisest choice.

“It’s a legitimate question – whether there are other needs for those public dollars. I understand both sides of the question,” he says. “Sentimentally, I’d like to see it continue.”

Daniels adds that Purdue is not in a position to help out financially.