Amtrak

Amtrak’s Hoosier State Line made one final round trip between Indianapolis and Chicago Sunday before discontinuing service. For some on board, it was an emotional day.

Could The Hoosier State Line Come Back?

Jun 28, 2019
Seth Tackett / WFIU/WTIU News

 

The Hoosier State Line will make its final trip from Indianapolis to Chicago on Sunday.

It's ending after Governor Eric Holcomb eliminated $3 million in annual funding for the route from the two-year state budget that starts July 1.

Hoosiers will still be able to catch a train to Chicago on the Cardinal Line, but that route starts in New York and only runs three days a week. 

The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance urged lawmakers at the Statehouse Wednesday to continue funding a four day-a-week passenger train from Indianapolis to Chicago.

The Hoosier State Amtrak line has received $3 million in state funding each year. This funding was removed from this year’s state budget.

Holcomb's Budget Proposal Could Derail Hoosier State Line

Jan 10, 2019
Passengers board the Hoosier State train Friday Aug. 19, 2016. (FILE PHOTO: Chris Morisse Vizza/WBAA)
Samantha Horton

Gov. Eric Holcomb’s proposed budget eliminates the state’s annual subsidy to fund the Hoosier State Amtrak train. The announcement came as a surprise to local officials whose cities are served by the line.

Marc Magliari, Amtrak

Amtrak ramped up its services Wednesday when it resumed complete control of all facets of the Hoosier State train that runs eight times a week between Indianapolis and Chicago.

The arrival of Amtrak’s high profile dome car, food service, business class and free Wi-Fi signal local, state and federal leaders are focused on maintaining revenue gains achieved after the state hired a private contractor to market and improve the money-losing service.

Hoosier State Rail Line Funding In Question

Feb 6, 2017

The General Assembly provided $6 million in one-time money from the last state budget for the Hoosier State Rail Line between Indianapolis and Chicago. And lawmakers were prepared to provide that funding again in this year’s budget.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say an unreasonable request led to Iowa Pacific Holdings removing itself from a deal to run the Hoosier State passenger train.

But Iowa Pacific’s CEO says a quirk in the contracts between his company, INDOT and Amtrak doomed the partnership.

Ed Ellis says his firm’s compensation from the deal decreased each time on-time performance improved.

“The way the contracts worked, we ended up getting less money as the train ran more on time,” Ellis says.

Chris Morisse Vizza/WBAA

A clearer picture of the progress and the challenges for the Hoosier State passenger rail service is emerging as the books close on Amtrak’s first fiscal year of operating the route in conjunction with the state, the cities served by the line, and private contractor Iowa Pacific Holdings.

At the end of August, Amtrak reported ticket sales of $886,000 for the first 11 months of the 2016 fiscal year, a 30 percent increase over the previous year.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA

In the crossroads of America, it's pretty easy to get around by driving or flying. But if you want to take the train, your options are limited.

Now, public-private deals such as the Hoosier State train are trying to change that.

Proponents of more rail service hope the Indianapolis-to-Chicago line so far will help prove their point to lawmakers.

On a Friday morning, the Hoosier State train is snaking north between Dyer and the Illinois state line. About 90 passengers sleep in their seats, eat breakfast in the dining car or use free WiFi.

Chris Morisse Vizza

Results are mixed one year into a two-year partnership involving the state, Amtrak, a private contractor and communities served by the Hoosier State passenger train.

The state’s goal has been to improve the route, attract more riders and generate more revenue to make the four-times-a-week round-trip service between Indianapolis and Chicago more self-sufficient.

WBAA’s Chris Morisse Vizza assess the progress thus far, and whether it’s enough to win continued funding from Indiana legislators.

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