The Indiana Department of Transportation has begun negotiations with Amtrak on continuing the Hoosier State passenger rail service, which operates four days per week between Indianapolis and Chicago.
“Gov. Pence supports the joint local and state effort to continue this passenger rail service, but with the negotiations, there are still a number of hurdles to be cleared,” said INDOT Commissioner Karl Browning in a statement. “There’s common interest among state and local officials to ensure that the service is accountable for the tax dollars being invested.”
INDOT has been discussing continuation of the passenger rail service with communities that have stops along the Hoosier State's route, according to Browning. Those stops include Dyer and Rensselaer.
Mayors and other public officials are making local funds available as part of the financing package to keep the service, according to INDOT.
In 2008, Congress voted to end federal support for Amtrak routes of less than 750 miles. Seven of the 19 states impacted had signed operating agreements as of Sept. 13. Amtrak has said that it would not terminate service with states holding good-faith contract negotiations by Oct. 1.
The estimate Amtrak provided in May to keep the Hoosier State passenger rail service in operation is $2.96 million annually, according to INDOT. Divided among each one-way passenger, this is approximately $80 in government support for each $24 ticket.
Amtrak’s long-distance Cardinal service, which operates the remaining three days per week between Cincinnati and Chicago via Indianapolis, is not affected by this decision.
INDOT has funded a cost-benefit analysis of the existing service and four options Amtrak provided for improved frequency and departure times. INDOT will present the results before a joint study committee of the legislature on Thursday.