Indiana House Democratic Caucus

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Legislators support investment in Amtrak service

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For immediate release:
Sept. 27, 2013

 

STATEHOUSE - Two House Democratic members of the study committee reviewing transportation issues, including Amtrak passenger service in Indiana, are urging Gov. Mike Pence to invest state funding in the four-day-a-week service connecting Indianapolis and other Indiana cities with Chicago.

The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) released a 47-page report Thursday that offered a cost-benefit analysis of Amtrak’s Hoosier State Line.

“The report offers options to keep this Chicago-to-Indianapolis service operating, while we reduce tax money to run it,” said State Rep. Ed DeLaney (D-Indianapolis). “The study found that adding a second, daily, round-trip train could reduce that $2.9 million subsidy by $100,000. I urge Gov. Pence to review this INDOT study carefully because I believe he will find that improved services will mean increased ridership, which, in turn, will reduce the public investment needed for continuation of this passenger service.”

Rep. Dan Forestal (D-Indianapolis), also a member of the Joint Study Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Assessment and Solutions, agrees.

“There are a lot of jobs at stake here,” observed Forestal. “The message I find is that if the state invests in the passenger service, it will pay off. Other states, like Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin have recognized the critical importance of supporting passenger rail service. One study in particular found that Illinois, Texas and California realized increased ridership and revenue after making investments in the Amtrak service. Our state needs to invest in the future as well.”

The INDOT study reviewed various options for improving Amtrak’s service and finances. It listed a range of costs for improvements as well as the possibility of cutting travel time between Chicago and Indianapolis by 30 minutes.

Amtrak and INDOT officials continue their negotiations. However, federal funding ends Oct.1. Amtrak has agreed to keep the service operational until mid-October.

Currently, there is daily service between Chicago and Indianapolis. In addition to the four-day-a-week Hoosier State Line service, the Cardinal Line runs three days each week. That line connects Chicago and New York. It will continue to be subsidized by the federal government.

Five years ago, Congress eliminated Amtrak funding for routes shorter than 750 miles. One of those routes is the Hoosier State Line.

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