Lead Indiana rail group supports South Shore extension

2014-03-04T13:58:00Z 2014-03-04T16:03:27Z Lead Indiana rail group supports South Shore extensionBy Keith Benman keith.benman@nwi.com, (219) 933-3326 nwitimes.com

Indiana's leading advocacy group for passenger rail is changing its name to boost its efforts to support projects such as the South Shore expansion and Amtrak's Hoosier State route.

The Indiana High Speed Rail Association will soon be named the Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance, or IPRA, following approval by the state of Indiana.

The association also recently elected Steven Coxhead, of Hammond, as president. Coxhead is an information systems professional with decades of management experience.

“The Indiana Passenger Rail Alliance must present itself as a grass roots, citizens’ advocacy organization, dedicated to bringing modern, 21st century, passenger rail service to this state,” Coxhead said.

The moves come as passenger rail efforts across the state are gaining steam.

The Indiana High Speed Rail Association joined efforts with local governments and others in the summer to push state officials to offer a subsidy to keep Amtrak's Hoosier State passenger train running between Chicago and Indianapolis. The route includes stops in Dyer and Rensselaer.

That effort paid off in October when the state joined with local municipalities to contribute $3 million to keep it running for the next 12 months.

The group also backs the proposed expansion of the South Shore commuter railroad from Hammond to Dyer. And it is supporting the Central Indiana Regional Transportation Authority's push for a commuter light rail system in the Indianapolis area.

The alliance is also supporting an economic development study of the Northern Indiana corridor by the Northeast Indiana Passenger Rail Association. That corridor would link Chicago, Gary, Valparaiso, Warsaw, Fort Wayne and Columbus, Ohio with high-speed trains.

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