Hoosier State line

courtesy Indiana House Republicans

State Representative Sally Siegrist (R-West Lafayette) has been named to the Midwest Interstate Passenger Rail Commission – a group advocating for train travel in the nation’s midsection.

It’s a position also held by Siegrist’s legislative predecessor, Rep. Randy Truitt (R-West Lafayette). And, like Truitt, she says she’d like to see more trains between Indianapolis and Chicago on a daily basis – but she admits there are challenges.

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.

City of West Lafayette

After years of literally molding over, West Lafayette’s city hall has been demolished. But what will replace it is still unclear – as is where that replacement might stand.

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.

Lawmakers Confident In Hoosier State Rail Line Funding

Jan 30, 2017

 

As lawmakers grapple with funding the state’s roads and bridges, many communities don’t want them to forget another mode of transportation: rail. And Republican leaders say the Hoosier State Rail Line’s future in the next two-year state budget should be secure.

Lawmakers provided $6 million in the last two-year budget for the Hoosier State Line from Indianapolis to Chicago. The money came from a one-time source, the state’s tax amnesty program.

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.

Stan Jastrzebski / WBAA News

As WBAA tried to report on the fiscal situation with the Hoosier State Line, we were left to extrapolate whether the train was finally in the black financially.

Turns out we're not alone.

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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