Indiana passenger train advocators held a rally Thursday on the steps of the Indiana State Capitol Building in Indianapolis to try to rally support for the threatened Hoosier State.
Brian Connors, an Amtrak employee who works at the railroad’s Beech Grove maintenance facility, told WTHR-TV, “This is not just an Indianapolis issue, it’s not just a Beech Grove issue. It’s an Indiana issue, a U.S. issue.”
In the meantime, the Indiana Department of Transportation released a 47-page report that concluded that a decision about saving the train should be made at a policy level rather than an economic level.
The report looked at continuing the route as is, upgrading the service (with annual costs ranging from $3.8 million to $10.9 million) and discontinuing the train. The study has narrow scope to determine the value of the train, focusing primarily on the benefits that could be assessed as a monetized value. The study recognized that other benefits from the service include economic impacts, economic impacts on land usage, freight improvements, quality of life, and social benefits.
INDOT has begun negotiations with Amtrak on a funding agreement to retain the route. If the state and Amtrak do not agree on a funding arrangement whereby the state agrees to help underwrite the cost of the train, the Chicago-Indianapolis train will be discontinued.
Amtrak has agreements with most of the states that have trains affected by a federal law that requires most states to pay more, or start paying for, short-distance Amtrak services.
The four states where agreements have not been reached are New York, Illinois, Indiana, and California (San Joaquin and Pacific Surfliners). Amtrak has an agreement with the Capitol Corridor Joint Powers Authority for its service in northern California.