Indiana inks agreement to continue daily Amtrak service

2013-10-15T14:49:00Z 2013-10-15T16:09:12Z Indiana inks agreement to continue daily Amtrak serviceBy Dan Carden dan.carden@nwi.com, (317) 637-9078 nwitimes.com
October 15, 2013 2:49 pm  • 

INDIANAPOLIS | Amtrak trains traveling between Indianapolis and Chicago will continue stopping at Dyer and Rensselaer every day of the week for at least one more year.

Republican Gov. Mike Pence and the national railroad agency reached an agreement in principle Tuesday for the state and several local governments to subsidize the four-day-a-week Hoosier State line for the next 12 months, with an option for an additional four months.

"This agreement will make Hoosier jobs more secure and preserve an important transportation link for Indiana," Pence said.

Service was set to terminate Wednesday if no deal was reached.

The Indiana Department of Transportation did not detail how the estimated $3 million annual cost of the Hoosier State line will be split between INDOT and the participating localities where Amtrak trains stop or are serviced, including Indianapolis, Rensselaer, Lafayette, West Lafayette, Tippecanoe County and Beech Grove.

State Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, said bipartisan cooperation over many hours of discussion and deliberation helped produce the agreement, but more work remains to be done.

"Improving the long-term costs and services associated with the Hoosier State line is not only essential to customers who use passenger rail, but also to taxpayers who fund this operation," Hershman said.

Congress decided in 2008 to end federal support for Amtrak routes shorter than 750 miles. The Hoosier State travels the 196 miles between Indianapolis and Chicago on Sundays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Between Oct. 2011 and Sept. 2012, the Hoosier State had 36,669 riders or about 180 passengers per trip, according to INDOT. A ticket on the Hoosier State averaged $23 for the 5 hour, 5 minute one-way trip between Indianapolis and Chicago.

Amtrak's long-distance Cardinal line, connecting New York to Chicago via Cincinnati, travels between Indianapolis and Chicago on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays.

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